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National Loon Center launches stewardship program

Loons & Lakes StewardShip program is open to all ages and offers an opportunity for observation of common loons.

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CROSSLAKE — The National Loon Center is launching the Loons & Lakes StewardShip program for environmental education.

The program is free, open to all ages and features a two-hour boat tour aboard a 31-foot tri-toon boat, the StewardShip, on Cross Lake.

The tours are led by National Loon Center staff and Minnesota Master Naturalists. Participants will have the opportunity for observation of common loons. This time of year, loon families are on the water raising their young chicks. Attendees will also learn actions they can take to conserve loons and freshwater ecosystems. Hands-on activities include water quality testing and contributing to the National Loon Center’s critical loon research via documentation and observation of loons on Cross Lake.

“We are so pleased to offer this fun, educational opportunity to people across the state and nation,” said Executive Director Jon Mobeck in a news release. “While we are delighted to equip today’s and tomorrow’s conservation leaders, we are also grateful and privileged to be able to offer this amenity to the public at no charge, ensuring that no one is denied access to this unique opportunity.”

The free public tours begin on July 21. Through September, excursions aboard the StewardShip will run 9-11 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. The boat leaves from the newly installed public docks at the Cross Lake Recreation Area. The floating docks were completed in 2022 as part of the National Loon Center’s outdoor site enhancements to the future location of the proposed facility, with funding provided via a grant from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.

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To reserve a seat aboard the StewardShip, register online at www.nationallooncenter.org . Excursions for private groups can also be reserved by contacting info@nationallooncenter.org . The StewardShip accommodates 15 passengers per trip and is ADA accessible. Please contact the National Loon Center with specific accommodations prior to departure.

The Loons & Lakes StewardShip program is a community-driven project. The tri-toon boat was acquired in 2021 with help from a $40,000 grant from the Crosslake Ideal Lions Club. A $4,000 grant from the Land & Waters Preservation Trust enabled the center to purchase water testing sample kits, binoculars, and mooring and safety equipment including life jackets for all ages. The National Loon Center was recently awarded with an additional $5,000 grant from the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund to purchase additional educational materials and support operational costs.

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