Skip to main content

A conservation-focused loon education center planned for central Minnesota will immerse visitors in the iconic bird's life and habitat. 

The National Loon Center, a non-profit organization formed in 2017, plans to open the center in Crosslake in 2024. The organization is currently housed at Crosslake Town Square in a small office and visitor's center called "The Nest."

With land secured along the shores of Cross Lake, the organization hopes to receive approximately $11.4 million in federal and state dollars this year to complete fundraising and begin construction in the fall. 

"There's so many rich and deep connections that Minnesotans have formed with loons," Executive Director Jon Mobeck said in an interview with Bring Me The News. "It's a source of state pride and people love to just come into the door and tell us about the loons that they've been watching." 

The three-story center is designed to show visitors life from a loon's point-of-view. A circular stairway, ascending through all three levels, will carry visitors through the exhibits, which each represent a different outdoor environment. 

The first level will be dedicated to loons' lives underwater, explains Mike Pluimer, the center's program operations associate. The second level will focus on nesting and other surface-level activities. Finally, the top level will showcase the skies and the migratory aspect of a loons' life. 

The center will serve as a testament to the beauty and uniqueness of loons, but it will also provide a home base for critical loon and freshwater research, according to Pluimer. 

The organization's loon research is led by the nation's preeminent loon biologist, Dr. Walter H. Piper, according to Mobeck. 

Last year, scientists at the center banded 78 loons and are hoping to band an additional 100 birds this year to be studied for the next 10-20 years. 

Mobeck said the research connects to the National Loon Center's mission to ensure the state bird will remain in Minnesota for generations to come. 

“It’s not inevitable that loons will stay here," he said, adding loons have already shifted away from southern Minnesota due to habitat degradation. "As water quality gets better or worse, they tend to go where the water quality is better or clearer.” 

This summer, the National Loon Center plans to offer boat rides and other conservation programs to showcase loons to Crosslake visitors. 

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-06-25 at 11.01.17 AM

Woman breaks free after being kidnapped and taken to Brooklyn Park

The woman was taken by force as she arrived at her work in Plymouth.


How the fastest animal on the planet returned to MN after local extinction

The fastest animal on Earth had once vanished from Minnesota and Wisconsin.


St. Paul's new 'skate trail' brings non-traditional park to life

Gateway Park is the first of four parks to open in the Highland Bridge redevelopment.


80 mph winds, large hail possible with severe storms in MN

A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect for much of the state until 3 a.m. Saturday.


30 people evacuated as flooding hammers small town

It's assumed that at least eight inches of rain fell in Randall, with more heavy rain expected Friday night into Saturday morning.

Intersection in Rochester.

Boy dies in motorcycle crash in Rochester

Police are investigating as of Friday afternoon.

Tab2FileL (13)

Numerous severe storms likely in Minnesota Friday night

Watch the video for the full details with meteorologist Sven Sundgaard.

court room

Teen pleads guilty in shooting death of 15-year-old girl in Columbia Heights

Damico Jamal-Tokyo High will receive a sentence in juvenile court, along with an adult prison sentence.

Screen Shot 2022-04-25 at 11.00.01 AM

Walz wants to use surplus money to send direct payments to Minnesotans

It's a renewed effort from a previous proposal from Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan's supplemental budget in January.



Minnesota 'glampground' named one of 10 best in U.S.

In Nevis, Minnesota, campers can stay in a refurbished 1905 train car.

sunfish mn dnr

MN DNR adds daily sunfish limits to 52 more lakes

It's part of an effort to improve the size of sunfish.

Boundary Waters/BWCA

Reddit tale raises questions of etiquette at Boundary Waters

Today, we bring you the unsettling tale of two "camp intruders" in the Boundary Waters.

Screen Shot 2022-06-13 at 12.59.27 PM

Gallery: Design concepts unveiled for Mississippi River Learning Center

Proposals for the St. Paul destination include a canopy walk, a rooftop garden cafe and the creation of a new, visitor-friendly island.

St. Paul park photo

St. Paul tops Minneapolis, both top 5 overall parks systems in US

St. Paul ranked second overall, while Minneapolis came in fifth, according to the latest rankings by the nonprofit Trust for Public Land.


MN owl returned to the wild after rare recovery from avian flu

The great horned owl released Wednesday is the Raptor Center's first patient to recover from HPAI.


Mississippi River Learning Center to showcase St. Paul as 'the river capital'

The year-round destination planned for Crosby Farm Regional Park could open as early as 2025.


Asian supermarket, food hall planned for Burnsville Center

The Asian shopping and dining hub could open as soon as Lunar New Year.