University board approves land lease for cold weather body farm

MARQUETTE — “There are seven other sites in the world today, but there all in warm and moderate climates. And there are different issues that happen with cold weather- the freezing, the thawing the snow pack, all of those different kinds of things.”

When the fall semester rolls around at Northern Michigan University, students will have the chance to study how bodies decompose in cold weather. The first ever Cold Weather Body Farm in the entire world will be installed on a piece of property in Marquette that the Michigan Department of Corrections owns for now.

“Until the title can be worked out with the state, what we’re doing is we’re leasing the property from the state. It will only be for a month, maybe two, until all that paperwork is done,” said NMU President Dr. Fritz Erickson.

The NMU Board of Trustees unanimously approved a lease agreement with the MDOC until that paperwork is finished. That way, the university can get into the location and prepare it for the upcoming semester.

“We need to get the fence up, the site prepared, all of that work done in the summer,” said Erickson.

Dr. Erickson said NMU is working on hiring a forensic anthropologist to lead the academic efforts. And although the program hasn’t officially started yet, Erickson says the university has already received interest in it from a variety of people.