Malheur Musings

November 2023

From our Friends at the Malheur Field Station: “Robert Browning, an astrophotographer, was at the station for his annual stay, when leaving he snapped this photo with his iPhone. Seems fitting to see birds flying in light of the eclipse at the Malheur Field Station.” 


Photo of annular solar eclipse seen through clouds and a flock of white-faced ibis.

by Robert Browning

Greetings Janelle,

I half expect this rain that is falling to turn to snow any moment. Winter is coming and all of nature and man are preparing for it. It is time for coming inside, reflecting, wrapping things up from the year, and planning for time to come.

I am so thankful for our mild October which we were able to enjoy and accomplish so much.

Over 60 people came out for A Night with Friends at McMenamin's Old St Francis School and we raised over $3,000!

We celebrated National Wildlife Refuge Celebration Week with over 30 people, including our Friends from the Historic Frenchglen Hotel, watching the annular eclipse and getting out to Walk for the Wild!

Volunteers worked hard at developing our new Volunteer Campground at Refuge Headquarters! Seven volunteers and one hearty little tractor laid weed barrier cloth and spread gravel for two days!

We worked with Worthy Environmental to complete Phase 1 of the Refuge Headquarters Dry-Scaping project on the lawn.

All of this work and more (see articles below!) was only possible because of the participants, volunteers, partners, Refuge Staff, and YOUR support! With every accomplishment we look forward to what new opportunities are ahead of us in our ongoing quest in stewarding the Refuge and its natural and cultural resources.

How are YOU thankful for Malheur National Wildlife Refuge?

Tell us your Malheur Thankfulness Thoughts!

I would love to feature YOU in upcoming outreach materials as we all reflect in this season of thankfulness and look ahead to a season of FriendsGiving!

As always, thank you for being a Friend.


A Message from Our President

Written by Wm. Tweed

A family wedding – a very special niece – took me south into California recently, and as I often do when I travel, I took advantage of the drive to seek out a few national wildlife refuges.

Travel up and down the “I-5 Corridor” puts one on the same route as one of the primary branches of the Pacific Flyway, in this case the route leading to and through California’s Great Central Valley. Read More

Conservation Corner

Conservation Pruning at P Ranch

Written by Janelle Wicks

Photos by Karen Tillou, Prunus LLC

In 2020 Jon Brown and Karen Tillou, Prunus LLC. ‘met every tree’ on the Refuge and subsequently produced a Malheur NWR Tree Inventory and Risk Assessment document. In additions to citing the various trees physical condition they reported on factors such as risk to failing and potential for causing damage to buildings or in areas open to the public. The notes on these ‘risky’ trees also included recommendations that spanned the spectrum of ‘Do Nothing’ to ‘Removal’. Read More

Malheur Lake Looks Different This Year

Written by Lauren Brown

Photos by Conrad Gowell and others

Article courtesy of High Desert Partnership

Malheur Lake is thriving this year. After two dry years followed by a hearty snowpack and wet spring in 2023, fresh water inundated the lake in the perfect amount. In those arid periods, the sediments at the lake's bottom had the opportunity to consolidate and acquire oxygen, enabling a variety of wetland plants to sprout. The drought also led to a significant decline in invasive Common carp populations. These elements converged harmoniously, resulting in the emergence of uncommonly clear water conditions across a substantial portion of the Malheur Lake wetlands. Read More

EPA Amends Rule Defining "Waters of the United States"

By Carl Woodward, FOMR Advocacy Chair

On May 25, 2023, the Unted States Supreme Court issued a ruling that invalidated a portion of the USEPA regulations that defined “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. This determination reduced the waters that had been previously covered by the EPA rule. On August 29, 2023, the EPA issued revised regulations to conform with the Supreme Court opinion. The revised rule removes the “significant nexus test” when identifying tributaries and other waters as federally protected. Read More

Follow That Swan!

September update by Gary Ivey, PhD.

Here’s an update on the locations of seven Trumpeter Swans marked on Benson Pond with GPS-GSM neck collars to track their migration. One of the collars (@16) has not transmitted data since late March, before they left Malheur Refuge. Here’s a summary of the travels of the other 6...Read More

How Big is the Lake? Starring Malheur Lake!

Temperatures have finally been consistently cooler in the basin (seriously, it was 8 the other morning coming into the refuge!) Because of cooler temperatures the lake area hasn't decreased as much. But is still slowly decreasing in size and depth. 

As of October 28, the lake is around 16,489 acres!!! This is still plenty of room to provide open water habitat for migratory species.

As you can see from the satellite imagery, brought to us by Sentinel Hub EO Brower, the lake has been slowly decreasing from last update and you can see a little more shoreline. The dark edge around the lake shows new emergent vegetation, which has grown quite tall compared to earlier this season.

~ Alexa Martinez, MNWR Wildlife Biologist

OWEB Awards Monitoring Work at Malheur

By Teresa Wicks, Portland Audubon's Eastern OR Biologist

The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) awarded $132,908 to Portland Audubon for the Ecological linkages between birds, water patterns, and vegetation Project at their October 23-25, 2023 board meeting.

The award was one of 69 grants totaling $12,461,865 provided to local organizations statewide to support fish and wildlife habitat and water quality projects.

“This project integrates the influence of water patterns and vegetation on bird use of riparian and wetland habitats so that we can manage for climate resilient systems and bird populations,” says Teresa Wicks, PA's Eastern Oregon Biologist. Read More

Volunteer Opportunities

Thank You 2023 Volunteers!

Stewardship Volunteers worked over 5 different projects including the maintenance of Crane Pond Overlook Trail, the development of the Volunteer Campground, barbed wire removal, native plantings and more! Their combined efforts total 269 hours!

It's amazing that our Friends volunteers can find joy in the most tedious of tasks. On October 24, eight volunteers gathered to shovel gravel for a day and a half!  We only stopped long enough to take quick looks at the eclipse. This was phase 1 in the construction of a campground that will accommodate future volunteers.  

We owe a debt of gratitude to the contractor team of Rob and Mary Quackenbush, who volunteered their services and their tractor which just kept delivering the gravel as fast as we could shovel it. We could never have accomplished this project without them. 

Pictured below: Left - Volunteers work to spread gravel across the new Volunteer Campground. Right - Before and After pictures from phase 1 of the Refuge Headquarters dry-scaping project. Read more about that HERE.

Crane's Nest Nature Center and Store Volunteers contributed over 3,000 hours in 2023! These volunteers are vital to our role in supporting the Refuge. From the Nature Store and sometimes from across the Refuge as they rove, they serve as a point of contact for visitors, maintain Nature Center & Store grounds, and spread the word about the Friends to people like YOU!

Our Month at Malheur

Written by Jay Williamson

Photos by Bailey de Iongh

My wife, Bailey, and I recently completed a month of volunteering for the Friends of the Malheur in September. We volunteered at the Crane Nest store selling all the wonderful merchandise there as well as doing projects given to us by our fabulous Executive Director Janelle Wicks. We enjoyed meeting all the visitors to the shop to answer questions about Malheur, talk about birds and explain who Friends of the Malheur is—and to sell things! One of the best parts of the work was enrolling many of these visitors as new (or renewing) members of the Friends.  Read More


Giving Tuesday is Coming! November 28, 2023

Every year we kick off FriendsGiving Season on Giving Tuesday, an International Day of Philanthropy! This giving campaign was designed to be a response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday is an opportunity to celebrate the good in the world by making a donation of time, talent, financial means to a cause that matters to you!

We hope that you will mark your calendars for 11/28/23 to make a donation and help surpass last year by raising over $3,000 towards our end of the year fundraising goal of $25,000!

Matchmaker, matchmaker, Make Me A MATCH! As we head into end of year fundraising season, if you are interested in contributing towards a MATCH of $1,000 or more please contact Janelle,

For more Events and Programs Visit FOMR's Calendar

October'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.

October 6, 2023: A white lined sphinx moth nectars on Steens Mountain thistle, a near-endemic species on Steens Mountain. Photo by Linda Storey 

#whitelinedsphinxmoth #steensmountain #highdesert #oregondesert 

#greatbasin #malheurnationalwildliferefuge #friendsofmalheur

Follow the Friends of Malheur on Facebook and Instagram at Malheurfriends!

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!

Current Membership Total: 947

Not a Member or need to RENEW?

Simply visit OUR WEBSITE!

Prefer to send a check? Easy.

Fill out THIS FORM and mail it with your dues to:

Friends of Malheur NWR

36391 Sodhouse Lane

Princeton, OR 97721

Pictured: Immature Sage Thrasher by Peter Pearsall

Welcome, Howl Intentional Goods!

Howl is a new Platinum Member of FOMR's Business Alliance Program. This program encourages conservation and stewardship minded businesses to become Allies in our mission to support Malheur NWR. To learn more about the program CLICK HERE.

Howl Intentional Goods is a small woman-owned business based in Bend, OR. Owner/Creator, Alicia Jenner, shared the following story about her inspiration for supporting Friends of Malheur NWR. Read the story HERE. 

The Sandhill Crane Society

Friends of Malheur are welcomed the 17 inaugural members of the Sandhill Crane Society. Any supporter who contributes $1,000 or more through Membership dues and/or donations throughout the year will become a Member of this new program.

There is still time to make your contribution THIS YEAR to become a 2024 Member of the Sandhill Crane Society.

Learn More about the Sandhill Crane Society

Crane's Nest Nature Center & Store

CLOSED for the Season. Will reopen on March 1, 2024

Malheur HQ Visitor Center

CLOSED for the Season.

New Member      Sign-up
Renewing Member Sign-up
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Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
36391 Sodhouse Lane
Princeton, OR 97721 
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