National Loon Center Facility, Public Docks and Shoreline Protection Project, Crosslake, MN: Review Outgrant Request (REC, ENS)

U.S. Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District
Published Sept. 24, 2019
Updated: March 29, 2022

The Cross Lake Recreation Area is located at 35507 County Road 66 in Crosslake, Minnesota.


The National Loon Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization, is proposing the construction of a 15,000 square-foot National Loon Center Facility as well as 3,100 linear feet of shoreline protection efforts at the Cross Lake Recreation Area. The center will include a welcoming entrance and lobby area, interpretive displays, an aquarium, indoor/outdoor classrooms, laboratory, gift shop, conference rooms and office space, and a kitchen designed for concessions and large group events. The architectural design of the facility will conform to a “Northwoods” theme with fountains and a fireplace.

Loon focused learning opportunities will extend beyond the interpretive exhibits and into the bay and throughout a trail system along the shoreline. An interpretive trail, multi-slip docks, and shoreline protection measures will provide visitors with a unique and educational experience.

Projections suggest the facilities will draw 80,000 visitors each year to the recreation area.


The National Loon Center Foundation has been granted a 25-year land lease by the federal government for the construction and operation of all facilities. In the fall and winter of 2021, the first series of site improvements were completed. Those enhancements included sidewalks and boardwalks that will connect the future center to floating mooring stations that were also successfully installed. Shoreland restoration was completed prior to dock installation and will stabilize and regenerate a degraded area. A floating classroom, called the StewardShip, was acquired in the summer of 2021 and will provide guests with on-water education in 2022.


The National Loon Center Foundation has secured funding through the State of Minnesota’s Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF). Four million dollars have been allocated for the first year, of which, up to $1,449,000 is for planning, design, and construction of outdoor learning kiosks, interpretive trails, boardwalks, boat docks, a fishing dock, and native landscaping along the shoreline. Any remaining funds are for planning, engineering, and constructing the center and indoor exhibits. Fiscal sponsorship must be secured before any trust fund money is spent. The project requires a match of at least $6 million; and at least $2 million of this match must come from non-state sources.