Photos by Stewardship Volunteers Jon Brown, Dale Derouin, and Cindy Zalunardo

To celebrate Public Lands Day, 14 stalwart volunteers met for a 3 day work party, which because they were so incredible, was finished in 2.  

The Barnes Spring Homestead area with its warm spring and old orchard is a prime birding location. Unfortunately, it was full of old barbed wire, some on leaning posts, some in coils and snarly piles, buried under grass or grown over with old growth sage and juniper. This debris has been creating serious problems for wildlife and human visitors but was no match for our crew! Without a whimper, this team filled a large flatbed trailer with barbed wire and old lumber left over from an attempt to roof a small sod building. In the evening, they enjoyed camping out under an almost full moon listening to the sounds of owls and coyotes.

On your next visit there, give a little shout-out to these wonderful volunteers, and remember, you could be one!

– Alice Elshoff, FOMR Board Member and Stewardship Projects Leader

Volunteers were enthusiastic about coming together at Barnes Springs Homestead but also to share with their friends and family. Long time Friends Member and Volunteer, Cindy Zalunardo, happens to know a descendent of the former residents who had this to share:

Have fun at my childhood homestead…..wish I could be there too.I couldn’t have asked for a better childhood on the ranch in Frenchglen…. My best memories are right thereon the place…raising animals, haying the fields, gathering cattle on the Steens….swimming in the warm springs.Life was good…..😊💖🐮🐴🐕🐱🌻

– Cyndie Barnes, daugher of Jiggs Barnes

Our team took great pride in the work they accomplished which included the installation of an Area Closed/No Swimming sign at the warm spring on site. Despite numerous websites and hot/warm spring regional guide books that may say otherwise, swimming has never been a permitted activity on Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, but it has never been offically posted at this site. Now that this sign is installed and some natural barriers have been arranged we hope to perserve this natural wonder for generations of wildlife who may depend on it and people who wish to view it.

This was our first time working on the refuge in many years, and it felt like a homecoming.  We even saw a sign describing some of our previous work trying to revegetate the Blitzen.  The team assembled was a pleasure to work with, with everyone playing the role of worker and leader as we worked through our project. We were especially fortunate to have Alice Ellshoff as our group leader, with her long history and depth of knowledge about the refuge.  We’ll be happy to return another time for another worthwhile project.

– Dale and Lois Deruoin

If you are interested in participating in a conservation work party in 2022, please follow us on FB @MalheurFriends or check back monthly in the Malheur Musings eNewsletter!

If you are looking for something a little sooner, our partners the Burns Paiute Tribe’s Natural Resources department and Portland Audubon are hosting TWO restoration work parties on Burns Paiute Tribal Land THIS MONTH! See the October issue of Malheur Musings or Email Twicks@audubonportland.org for more information.