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National Loon Center Capital Campaign Launch 2019 for $6M Match

Web posted July 23, 2019
Loons won’t exist in Minnesota by the end of the century if we continue our current course, predicts the National Audubon Society. The National Loon Center Foundation asks, “How much do you value loons? What do they represent to you? What are our personal and public wild life treasures? Education and research for the Common Loon helps anticipate threats that could jeopardize the future of our state bird.”

Minnesota currently has the largest summer population of Common Loons in the lower 48 states. Most loons are also in the north-central and northeastern parts of Minnesota where there are plenty of forested areas and lighter populations. So it makes sense that the Center would be in the heart of loon summer habitats.

The Common Loon is Minnesota's State bird and is an iconic symbol to Minnesota's “cabin country”. The NLC mission is to inspire discovery, spark interest in loons and freshwater ecosystems and ignite shared passions for environmental stewardship. It is important to understand and conserve this species along with their essential habitats so we can educate future generations.

The National Loon Center Foundation was established in 2017 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to enable fundraising and construction of a future National Loon Center in Crosslake, Minnesota. This Spring, the NLC was awarded 4 million dollars from the Minnesota Environment and National Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF) or Minnesota State Lottery fund. They received a land lease this July from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (a 2.6 million in kind from the Federal government) for the Crosslake Campground day use area where the future center will be built. The Brainerd Lakes Area Chambers of Commerce has signed an agreement this summer to be the operator of the National Loon Center once it is open. The proposed 15,000 square foot National Loon Center will include educational and research opportunities, with a primary focus on protection and preservation of the Common Loon. The Center itself will include an interpretive center, outdoor demonstration areas, a freshwater education/research center, demonstrated shoreline restoration, outdoor boardwalks and docks on the lake shore. The plan also includes bird sanctuaries, different outdoor exhibits and a floating classroom to study water quality and invasive species. The National Loon Center will be engaging, educational and hands-on for all ages.

The National Loon Center is an estimated 12 million dollar project. The Foundation has been busy working with critical key partners, including the University of Minnesota, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Initiative Foundation, Sourcewell, CLC, WSN, BLAEDC, City of Crosslake, Crosslakers, WAPOA, US & State Legislators, and other existing Loon organizations and Freshwater initiatives to unite efforts under a national emphasis. The Foundation has also developed in collaboration an extensive Master Plan, Market Feasibility Study, an Economic Impact Study and Community Connectivity Study. Completion of the National Loon Center project will create six new living wage jobs and help diversify the economy locally much the same way other centers have done in their host communities. It is anticipated that the National Loon Center will attract about 50,000 visitors each year, but an estimated 1/3 of the visitors will be coming directly from the Corps campground and park which attracts about 150,000 annual visitors.

The National Loon Foundation is launching multiple campaigns, both public and private to raise a 6 million dollar state required match in the next few years. They will be reaching out to Corporations, Foundations and Individuals who share similar environmental goals and visions for sponsorships and partnerships. They will also appreciate philanthropic donations. Donations can be made online through their website, www.nationallooncenter.org or by mailing to the National Loon Center, P.O. Box 642, Crosslake, MN 56442.

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