CROSSLAKE — The National Loon Center is launching the Loons & Lakes StewardShip program for environmental education.
The program is free, open to all ages, and includes a two-hour boat trip aboard a 31-foot tri-toon boat, the StewardShip, on Cross Lake.
Tours are led by National Loon Center staff and Minnesota Master Naturalists. Participants will have the opportunity to observe common loons. At this time of year, families of loons are on the water raising their young chicks. Participants will also learn about actions they can take to conserve loons and freshwater ecosystems. Hands-on activities include testing water quality and contributing to critical National Loon Center loon research through documenting and observing loons on Cross Lake.
“We are thrilled to bring this fun and educational opportunity to people across the state and nation,” executive director Jon Mobeck said in a press release. “While we are excited to equip the conservation leaders of today and tomorrow, we are also grateful and privileged to be able to offer this equipment free of charge to the public, ensuring that no one is denied the opportunity. access to this unique opportunity.”
Free public tours begin July 21. Through September, excursions aboard the StewardShip will run from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. The boat departs from the newly installed public docks at Cross Lake Recreation Area. The floating docks were completed in 2022 as part of the National Loon Center’s outdoor site improvements at the future location of the proposed facility, with funding provided through a grant from the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund .
To reserve a seat on the StewardShip, register online at www.nationallooncenter.org. Excursions for private groups can also be booked by contacting [email protected] 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 project. The tri-toon boat was acquired in 2021 with 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 sampling kits, binoculars, and mooring and safety equipment, including life jackets for all ages . The National Loon Center recently received an additional $5,000 grant from Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund to purchase additional teaching materials and support operating costs.