Written by Peter Pearsall/Photo by Ed Moulton, Refuge Maintenance Supervisor

The unsung heroes at Malheur Refuge are its maintenance staff. These hardworking Refuge employees ensure that roads are kept in good shape; signs, gates, kiosks and other structures are functioning properly; Refuge water levels are controlled to enhance habitat for wildlife—and much, much more. Another of these duties is the maintenance of public-use infrastructure such as toilets.

Thanks to maintenance staff, new vault toilets were recently installed at Malheur Refuge, replacing ones that were more than 20 years old. According to Ed Moulton, Maintenance Supervisor at Malheur Refuge, these new toilets are a prefabricated one piece concrete vault. The new toilets are more ADA friendly, have a larger tank capacity, and require much less annual maintenance.

The toilets cost just over $17,000 each, including delivery and installation. The contractor for this project used a four-person ground crew to excavate the pits and install the toilets. The contractor also brought in a crane and an operator to lift the buildings off the trailer and set them in the holes. The operator used a mini-excavator to excavate and grade the area. 

All four of the vault toilets outside of Refuge Headquarters were replaced: one at Buena Vista Overlook, two at Krumbo Reservoir and one at P-Ranch. The toilets are maintained/stocked twice a week, depending on visitation.