National Loon Center Coming to Crosslake

With its dark red eyes, sleek body and mesmerizing call, the common loon is an intriguing bird.

That intrigue could soon lead tourists to the National Loon Center in Crosslake.

"I cannot believe here in Minnesota, with our state bird being the common loon, we don't have anything like this already," University of Minnesota Applied Economics Professor Bill Gartner said.

Gartner is helping with the efforts by conducting a market feasibility study. 

The mission of the center is to restore and protect loon habitats, enhance environmental recreation, and construct a research and education center for migratory wildlife at the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers property.

"The enthusiasm from the people putting this together is unparalleled," Gartner said. "They are so excited about it. You feel good working with them."

Pictures online show National Loon Center Foundation organizers building a loon raft for a nest this spring. A live loon camerahas also been set up.

Gartner said showcasing the iconic animal will only help it thrive.

"Just knowing the birds are there, and hopefully thriving, that just says something about your outdoor experience and the quality of your outdoor environment," he said.

A feasibility study will be presented to the Crosslake community on June 8.

The National Loon Center Foundation will work with Central Lakes College Small Business Development Center in Brainerd on a business plan.

Gartner said the center will rely on gift and admission sales, educational programming and donations.

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