The University of Notre Dame Environmental Research Center encompasses approximately 7500 acres on both sides of the state line between Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula in Vilas County (Wisconsin) and Gogebic County (Michigan). It includes a land area of 6150 acres and 30 lakes and bogs with a combined surface area of 1350 acres. Open water within the preserve accounts for about 16% of the total area. Twenty-six of the aquatic habitats lie entirely on the property. The center of the UNDERC site is at 46' 13' North by 89' 32' West. The altitude of the area ranges between 1640 ft (500 m) and 1700 ft (520 m).
To avoid disturbance to ongoing research operations and the many sensitive habitats on the property, access is strictly controlled. Locked gates protect all roads into the property and unauthorized entry by foot or vehicle is prohibited. Regulations on the scientific, educational, and recreational use of the Notre Dame Properties by UNDERC students, researchers, visitors, and guests are contained in the document, "Policies and Procedures for Use of UNDERC."
Among the aquatic habitats that lie wholly on the property are nine dystrophic bogs, many permanent ponds and small lakes, and several marsh habitats. During May and June, many vernal ponds exist on the property. Mosquito populations in many of these ponds have been surveyed annually for more than 20 years by students and researchers associated with the Notre Dame Vector Biology Laboratory. This great diversity of habitats makes UNDERC an excellent location for both aquatic and terrestrial studies.
The UNDERC property is bounded on three sides by units of the Ottawa National Forest. In addition to hiking and camping, the national forest includes many riverine and lacustrine habitats available for collecting. Aquatic insects are particularly abundant both on and off the property. Three streams traverse the property, Tenderfoot Creek for 3 miles (4.8 km), Brown Creek for 1.1 miles (1.7 km), and Orchard Creek for 0.25 miles (0.4 km). Brown and Tenderfoot creeks are within the Ontonagon River drainage basin. Orchard Creek is part of the Presque Isle River drainage. On the property, these are mostly sluggish headwater streams. However, to the north, on their descent to Lake Superior, these streams become raging torrents that provide a great diversity of both rapids and pool habitats.
Habitats: grasslands, montane forest, and streams