The Friends of Malheur pursues many paths as we carry out our mission of supporting Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Among these avenues is advocacy. Let me share some recent examples.
A few weeks ago, we added our voice to those calling for the addition of more than five miles of Bridge Creek to Senator Ron Wyden’s proposed River Democracy Act that would enlarge Oregon’s wild and scenic rivers network. This section of Bridge Creek, all of it within the BLM’s Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area, flows into Malheur National Wildlife Refuge a few miles north of Frenchglen and adds its water to the Donner and Blitzen River. If Wyden’s bill is enacted, the designation of Bridge Creek as a Wild River will help protect water quality in the southern part of the refuge. In early December, in response to our letter, among others, Wyden added Bridge Creek to his bill, which FOMR supports.
Another example of FOMR’s advocacy is our membership in the National Wildlife Refuge Association, an umbrella organization that works politically for the entire National Wildlife Refuge System. A major focus of this group has been a prolonged campaign to increase operational funding for all the refuges. Increases in funding must pass two hurdles: the Administration’s proposed budget and approval by Congress. There has been broad recognition for some time that the refuge system is underfunded, and the Administration’s proposed budget for FY 2023 called for a 25% increase in funding for refuge operations. As I write this just before Christmas, the final federal budget for 2023 is about to be passed by Congress. In it will likely be a 7.5% increase for refuge operations, which will amount to an additional $23 million for the system. That’s not enough, but it’s a step in the right direction.
As you can, see, this is a field where our organization can do some good. Thanks for being a member and helping FOMR speak up for Malheur Refuge.
Wm. Tweed, FOMR President