Malheur Musings
August 2021
It is not uncommon for people to enter the Crane's Nest Nature Store and ask something akin to, "Where is the water?!?" or "Is this normal?", with a great deal of dismay. I have come to the standard response of, 'The only thing predictable about water in the Harney Basin is that it is in fact, highly variable and unpredictable.'

The landscape seems to change almost daily. Marshall pond continues to shrink and many plants are beginning to turn for lack of surface and near surface groundwater. The river flows slower and lower. The lake contracts to its deepest spots which may be only as deep as 8-12" while a great many thousand acres are either a soupy expanse of mud or dry and cracking. 

Water is not the only feature of our Refuge that this is true of. This issue of our Newsletter features a great variety of topics regarding changes in an ever evolving system. For instance, I have just said my final good bye to our Fish Biologist, James Pearson, who is leaving Malheur NWR.

In adapting to his departure and the gap it creates for the Lake Restoration project management, I am proud to share with you that FOMR has just approved a grant in the amount of $11,160.00 to extend the contract of the Lead Lake Restoration Technician. Rebecca will complete the season's data collection on several projects which you may have read about previously in this newsletter.
This place we all love so deeply is experiencing changes. Some harder than others. Some that will last longer than others. But just as I always say about the water, 'The only thing predictable is its unpredicatability.' In the face of it all we band together, educate oureslves and others, and rely on our Friends so that we may move forward to brighter, cooler, days. Don't miss the volunteer opportunities towards the end of this newsletter for a chance to experience it all first hand.
As always, Thank you for being a Friend.

Janelle L Wicks
FOMR Executive Director
Conservation Corner
By Carey Goss, Refuge Wildlife Specialist

Water level fluctuations are characteristics of closed basins, and even today level of water can fluctuate dramatically from year to year. The largest watercourse influencing Malheur National Wildlife Refuge lands is the Blitzen River. 

The Blitzen River drains the southern portion of the Donner und Blitzen sub-basin and receives most of its volume from Steens Mountain snowmelt. By the time the Blitzen River enters Malheur Lake the water has been captured to an area of 760 square miles. It is joined by a number of tributaries (Mud, Bridge, Krumbo, and McCoy Creeks) as it continues downstream. The importance of the river’s discharge as it enters the Blitzen Valley is to maintain Refuge wetland habitats for wildlife that depend on wet meadows and ponds.  Read More
By Peter Pearsall

For the past six years James Pearson has been working to restore the lakes at Malheur Refuge, first as a graduate student, then as a Ph.D. candidate, and finally as the Fish Biologist for Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Pearson will be leaving the Refuge to step into a new role as Fish Biologist with the East Bay Municipal Utilities District in Lodi, California. 

“While I am excited to start the next part of my life, I am saddened because I will miss all my terrific coworkers, collaborators, and partners,” said Pearson. “Malheur Lake has been a significant part of my life over the last six years, and I will cherish all the fond memories that I have from our research together.” Read More
By Pavlina Slezak, GIS Intern, Ducks Unlimited Inc.

In late June, members of the Ducks Unlimited GIS (Geographic Information Systems) team visited Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for the first phase of three wetland mapping projects to occur in southeast Oregon.

Ducks Unlimited has been contracted by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to update the National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) for a large portion of southeast Oregon. The NWI is a publicly available dataset classifying and mapping wetlands and waterbodies throughout the United States. It is a valuable resource for conservation planning and natural resource management, providing information on wetland flooding frequency, land cover type, vegetation composition, and water connectivity. Read More
By Linda Craig, FOMR Volunteer
Photos by Dan Streiffert

Visitors to the Refuge during March through July couldn’t help but notice the hundreds of scurrying, little mammals that crowd under the bird feeders at Headquarters. These six-inch, grey-brown rodents are Beldings Ground Squirrels. Read More

The sustaining support of our members is more important than ever.
If you are unsure of your Membership status you can email us at today!

Join us for a VIRTUAL PRESENTATION about the new research that is combining big-data and cloud-based-computing with bird tracking technology to conserve continental migration networks. Results provide new planning tools that prioritize conservation of landscapes essential to maintaining connectivity between breeding and wintering areas. 

Read more about the research BELOW.
By Emily Downing, IWJV

Greater sandhill cranes rely on wetland habitat on private and public land throughout the West as they migrate to and from wintering and breeding grounds each fall and spring. New science from the Intermountain West Joint Venture (IWJV) identifies the landscapes and wetland sites most important to sustaining these seasonal migrations. The paper, Migration efficiency sustains connectivity across agroecological networks supporting sandhill crane migration, also documents how researchers identified and monitored landscape change in these wetland sites. The results paint the picture of an intricately connected network of habitat spread across the West—much of which is under threat from climate change and human development. Read More
Strategic Planning is Underway!

The Board of Directors met on Thursday, July 29th, to review the findings from our recent Community Engagement Survey and Stakeholder Interviews. Our facilitator, Rebekah Lambert, walked us through an analysis of the responses on a path towards identifying themes amid the answers we received. We are on our way now to begin evaluating 'Big Picture Strategic Goals' for the future of our growing organization. We are eager to dig into this work and are very grateful for everyone one of you who responded to the Survey. Thank you.

A special shout out to D.M. who won an I <3 Malheur gift set from our
random drawing of 424 survey respondents!
Membership Minute
The sustaining support of our members is more important than ever.
If you are unsure of your Membership status you can email us at today!
Congratulations to our 1,000th Friends Member, KIMBERLY WILBUR!
Every Membership at all levels are a vital component of an incredible network of advocates for Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. In honor of reaching this milestone of 1,000 Members we were thrilled to send Kimberly this gift set!
Current Membership Total: 1007!
Welcome to the 328 NEW Members who have joined us since Jan 1, 2021
As a self taught photographer I've always been addicted to landscape photography. Wanting to do more wildlife, I recently purchased my first telephoto lens. After a year of occasionally shooting wildlife with my telephoto lens I began to notice the intimate world of our feathered friends. This was a game changer to me. So began my affection and addiction to the world of birds.

My brother Richard was thrilled because he's been trying to get me into birding for many years and for the 100th time he invited me to join him at MNWR. I had the pleasure of experiencing this wonderful park with my brother Richard who I consider an amateur ornithologist and as my personal bird spotter. Richard has been studying birds for nearly 40 years. READ & SEE MORE

Thank you, Chris, for sharing your experience and photography with us.
Check him out on Instagram @ChrisRusnakPhotography

Would YOU like to share your story, a memory, or some photographs
of Malheur with us? Please email
July's Most Popular
Every month there is excellent content on the Friends Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages. Here we will feature the most popular post of the month.
Moonrise (7/26): A full moon rises over the high desert at Malheur Refuge,
with the historic Sodhouse Ranch at left. 
Photogher: Alan Nyiri

This post reached 4,684 people through Facebook and 127 people liked it on Instagram. Follow our pages, @Malheurfriends, to see more great content like this!
Volunteer with Friends
THIS MONTH: Sod House Ranch Work Party

Join us for a work party at the Sod House Ranch August 11 – 14th where we will be graveling trails, weeding around buildings, painting picnic tables, cleaning out buildings, and working on visitor resources (e.g. brochure racks, interpretive trail signage). Free camping will be available at Sod House Ranch for participants (limited to eight).

What to expect: While some elements of this work party will require long hours of standing, hauling gravel, and other physically demanding work, there are also some opportunities for work that is less physically demanding, such as painting the picnic tables and retouching interpretive signs.

There will be ample time for birding, socializing, playing games, etc. Coffee, tea, and snacks will be provided. All participants will be required to wear masks if they are working less than 6′ apart. Hand sanitizing will be required before touching shared surfaces (e.g. water coolers, potluck serving utensils, coffee supplies, etc.).

Questions? Janelle,
OR Teresa,
Are you Ready? Now Recruiting for 2022!

Needed: Crane's Nest Nature Center & Store Volunteers are needed for October 2021 and March-October 2022! Individuals must be comfortable interacting with the visiting public and carrying out day-day store operations tasks such as running a point of sale system, counting and stocking inventory. Volunteers also help to maintain the ground surrounding the Nature Center including filling and cleaning bird feeders, occassional light groundskeeping, etc.

No RV? No Problem! Sign up early to claim a month long stay in the Friends of Malheur NWR's RV at Refuge Haedquarters!
Volunteers with an RV/Camper would have full hook-ups at the volunteer RV park.
All volunteers have access to bathrooms with showers, a fully stocked kitchen, a community room with DirectTV, WiFi, and laundry facilies.
Needed: Boundary Fence Mapping Volunteer(s) will be trained to assess and report Refuge boundary fence conditions. A training video and project website are available now for interested volunteers. Work will be allowed to begin by August 1st and may take place any time through the fall. Volunteers MUST have a fully self contained RV or Trailer or be able to secure nearby lodging.

All Volunteer opportunities are contingent upon and will be subject to any local, state, or federal health and safety guidelines. Volunteering may be cancelled at any point.
If you wish to be considered for a volunteer position please email Janelle,
Crane's Nest Nature Center & Store
Open Daily 8:00am-4:00pm
Subject to change based on staff and volunteer availability
Women's and Unisex Friends LOGO shirts are back in stock!
Choose Moss Green or Slate Grey
Small - 2XL

Malheur HQ Visitor Center
Open Friday - Sunday
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Subject to change based on staff and volunteer availability
Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge | 
36391 Sodhouse Lane
Princeton, OR 97721