Iva Weir at Lake Bemidji
The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota announces one of the largest donations it has ever received benefitting a single species—$1.8 million from the late Iva Weir to help conserve the common loon, the state bird of Minnesota.
The gift will help conserve more than 1,000 acres at the Conservancy’s Lake Alexander and Ordway/Glacial Lakes project sites that provide loon habitat and cover land management and conservation planning expenses related to the protection of loon habitat. The gift will also help pay for future purchases and projects on Minnesota lands and waters critical to loons.
“Iva Weir was a longtime member who believed in our mission of conserving our lands and waters to protect nature and preserve life,” said Peggy Ladner, director of The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota. “We are overwhelmed by her incredible generosity. People can make a difference in this world in any number of ways. Iva’s legacy will be to help conserve two things Minnesotans love most about our state—our lakes and our loons.”
Common loons are migratory birds that breed throughout central and northeast Minnesota each summer. Their preferred habitat during the breeding season is lakes and rivers in forested areas.
Weir was born in Moorhead and grew up in Bemidji. She also taught music to students in International Falls before moving to Oregon. She often returned to northern Minnesota in the summer to visit family and to enjoy the state’s lakes, rivers and to see and hear loons.
The biggest threats to common loons in Minnesota are shoreline development, water quality degradation and human disturbance, which can cause adults to abandon their nests, leaving their eggs and chicks vulnerable to predation.
The common loon is known for its wailing call, which naturalist John Muir said was “one of the wildest and most striking of all wilderness sounds.”