A group of Minnesota nonprofits has come out against the proposed appropriation of $4 million in state lottery proceeds for the creation of a National Loon Center in Crosslake.
The eco-tourism project appeared to have few naysayers until Thomas Casey, chair of Friends of Minnesota Scientific and Natural Areas, took exception to state funding for a project that he says would have “no benefit to loons.’’
In an letter to the Legislature, he asked the Senate and House to delete the National Loon Center as the proposed recipient of $4 million from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.
The bills proposing funding wouldn’t allot all of the money unless the Loon Foundation negotiates a no-cost lease of lake frontage and raises $6 million outside of state government. The center is projected to cost $10 million to build.
Casey’s letter said the project would adversely impact the shoreline area and detract from loons migrating through or nesting in the area. Supporters say the center would protect the shoreline from current erosion and teach visitors the importance of habitat and clean water for sustaining loons.
But Casey’s letter says loon conservation is better served by direct protection of loon nesting habitat, enhancing water quality and stopping the use of lead ammunition and lead fishing tackle.
The letter also is signed by Austin Coalition for Environmental Sustainability; Clean Up The River Environment; Friends of the Mississippi River; League of Women Voters — Minnesota; Mankato Area Environmentalists; Save Our Sky Blue Waters; and Wilderness in the City.