National loon center expected to land in Crosslake

MINNEAPOLIS — The University of Minnesota and the National Loon Center Foundation are working to build a center for loon education and conservation.

The university’s Department of Applied Economics is conducting a feasibility study to see if the national loon center should be built in Crosslake, Minnesota Daily reported.

Crosslake, in the heart of Minnesota lake country in the north-central part of the state, is a good location because it’s a natural habitat for loons and would benefit from additional conservation work, researchers said.

“Minnesota has the largest population of loons, and there are over 200 loons that visit the Crosslake area in a year,” said Virajita Singh, a senior research fellow for the Center for Sustainable Building Research.

The loon center will promote the protection of the area’s natural resources and loon population, experts said. It will also educate the community about the aquatic birds.

“People love to look at the loons on the lake and listen to their calls, and (the loons) have a real connection with people, and yet there is a lot that’s unknown about the loon’s life cycle and their habitat requirements,” said Bill Gartner, an economics professor at the university who is working on the feasibility study.

The study is comprised of three parts, said Elliot Charette, an economics graduate student working on the study. There will be a demographic analysis on the type of people who visit the Crosslake area and the reasons they visit, a demand evaluation to estimate how many visitors the center might draw and an operating revenue analysis to assess the cost of building and operating the center, he said.

The center is also expected to bring additional jobs to the Crosslake area, Charette said.

“This is a sustainable and environmental way to create economic development and to have (environmental stewardship) jobs,” Charette said.

The center is expected to be built by 2021.

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