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Deer Lake Association
A member of the Minnesota Lakes Association

Wabu Woods Scientific and Natural Area (SNA)

Wabu Woods SNA includes two large non-contiguous parcels including nearly 100 acres of undisturbed hardwood forest and approximately 2000’ of unimproved forested shoreline on and near the NE corner of Deer Lake. Wabu Woods includes a large wetland, steep slopes, ice ridges, hardwood forest, lowland white cedar, sedge meadow, and hummocky terrain punctuated by knolls and wetland.  Unimproved forested shoreline is critical to Deer Lake water quality.  In addition to its intrinsic value, Wabu Woods performs a critical function for Deer Lake, filtering for pathogens, phosphorus, and other nutrients from rainwater, stormwater, and other runoff from County Road 62, from the Itasca County Transportation Department facility, and from the industrial gravel operation across the road.  

This spectacular land was originally donated to the Nature Conservancy by Deer Lake’s Abby Weed Grey, beloved aunt and namesake to current Deer Lake property owner Abby Marier.  The Nature Conservancy conveyed the land to the Minnesota DNR’s SNA program, who oversees the land today.  Current stewards for Wabu Woods SNA are DLA members David and Margaret Duxbury.  You can read more about Abby Grey, Abby’s generous and far-sighted gift, Wabu Woods stewards and benefactors Abby and Don Marier, and the Wabu Woods Scientific and Natural Area on the DNR’s Wabu Woods webpage:

Before the Grey and Marier connection to this land that would be Wabu, we have this account from Cy DeCoster's book about Deer Lake, The Lake of Changing Colors (2000):

The east end of the bay came to be known as "Lusk's Bay," named for the retired professor at the School of Agriculture in St. Paul who, in the thirties, doing much of the work himself, put up two cabins on the side of the hill, one for himself and his wife, the other for his sister-in-law, Laura Pardee.  A spring rose just above their cabin and flowed underneath it down to the lake--and unusual feature.  Will Lusk was a small (5'6", 129 lbs), peppey individual who livened up the scene.  One frequently saw him charging around in his jeep.  An avid fisherman, he often complained about people dynamiting the lake.  He and his wife kept returning every summer into the fifties.   At the end they were very feeble and couldn't even drive.  Neighbors got supplies for them.  One wondered how they managed the steep hill down to their cabin,  After their deaths, Abby Grey purchased their property and donated it to the Nature Conservancy.  The Audubon Society had the cabins torn down, so the colorful Lusks and their quaint cabins are only a memory.

Dynamiting the lake?!!