Refuge Advocacy

Our national wildlife refuges are truly an American treasure. 

CCC Building HQ

The beginning

In 1903, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, had the foresight and wisdom to understand the importance of protecting special wildlife areas when he established the first National Wildlife Refuge in Sebastian, Florida. In the coming years between 1903 and 1908, he established several more Refuges and in 1908 the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was established. Malheur Refuge was created to provide a haven for waterfowl, wading birds, and other migratory birds that frequent the Harney Basin. 

It is incredible to think that the protection of a 5.5-acre island in Florida at the turn of the 20th century kicked off the creation of the largest system of protected public lands in the world—the National Wildlife Refuge System. Since its founding, the Refuge system has grown to encompass 568 national wildlife refuges comprised of over 150 million acres of protected wildlife conservation lands.

What makes our national wildlife refuges so special is that they belong to the public and always will. The public can enjoy world-class bird watching, hunting, fishing, hiking, kayaking, photography, and much more on our nation’s wildlife refuges. National wildlife refuges are also extremely accessible–most cities are within a one-hour drive of a refuge.

A Call to Action

To Friends and Future Friends,

National Wildlife Refuges are special places. In addition to providing crucial habitat for thousands of native species, these lands contain rivers where veterans fly-fish to assist in the process of healing from PTSD; marshes where a parent takes their child hunting for the first time; forests that become a child’s first memory of an outdoor classroom; meadows where ranchers teach their children about the history of responsible land stewardship. These are places deserving of our admiration and support.

It’s important to remember that National Wildlife Refuges, like all public lands, belong to all Americans. It’s apparent that few are aware of the incredible benefits Refuges provide to communities and local economies.

For every $1 Congress appropriates to run the Refuge System, nearly $5 is returned to local economies in jobs, sales, income and tax revenue. And that’s on average. In many areas, Refuges provide an even greater boost to the economy. Malheur Refuge is one such economic engine, returning over $7 for every $1 appropriated by Congress.  Ironically, in spite of their economic value, our Refuges, due to declining budgets, are tragically underfunded and understaffed. This declining support seriously affects the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s ability to fulfill its mission: “Working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.”

Please stand with Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to show your solidarity with Malheur Refuge and the National Wildlife Refuge System.

See below for how you can help!

Thanks to all of you for your support of our National Wildlife Refuges!

Why Is It Important to Advocate for Malheur Refuge?

The Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was formed in 1999 by a small group of people who recognized the need to support Malheur Refuge and its mission in the face of declining federal support. Our Refuge system has been underfunded since President Theodore Roosevelt created the first refuge. Over the years, the Refuge Systems annual budget appropriation has not kept pace with inflation resulting in major reductions in staffing and annual operating support. It is in this environment that the Friends of Malheur Members and supporters strive to secure the future of Malheur National Refuge and its mission through advocacy, volunteerism, and financial support to accomplish Refuge objectives otherwise left undone.

The Friends of Malheur NWR believe:

  • Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is a treasure entrusted to the American people to conserve wildlife and the wild spaces they depend on.
  • Connecting people to the biological and ecological richness of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge encourages stewardship and conservation.
  • Supporting the Malheur NWR staff in the face of continued National budget and staffing reductions enhances their ability to conserve, restore, and enhance all species of fish, wildlife, and plants to the benefit of present and future Americans.
  • Sharing a love of nature and an understanding of conservation with the public, particularly with youth, builds a coalition of advocates who make responsible choices about how to interact with and protect the natural world.

Ways to Advocate

Join us

Join and or contribute to Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Our members receive regular eNews updates about Refuge events, news, and volunteer opportunities.

Visit Often

Visit Malheur or any refuge with your family, friends and neighbors, so they can learn about and enjoy the great outdoors. Work to get kids outdoors where they can connect with nature.  Foster a future generation of those that support nature and wild places.


Spend time volunteering at Refuges. Sign up for our e-newsletter to learn about scheduled volunteer work parties and other volunteer opportunities at Malheur Refuge. If you can’t come to Malheur, please offer to help at a local Refuge.

Support National Wildlife Refuge Association

Join and or contribute to the National Wildlife Refuge Association, the national nonprofit focused on promoting and protecting the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Write Your Senators and Congressmen

Write your senators and congressmen and urge them to support increased funding and staffing for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Sign up with the National Wildlife Refuge Association for Action Alerts. Ask your legislators at all levels to support keeping public lands public for all to enjoy.

Support Local Refuge Friends Groups

Join or contribute to your local Refuge Friends Groups, where they occur. The Refuge Association has links to Friends Affiliates and you can also contact your local Refuges to ask how you can help. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a Find your Refuge tool to do so.

Purchase A Federal Duck Stamp

Ninety-eight cents out of every dollar generated by the sale of Federal Duck Stamps goes directly to purchase or lease wetland habitat for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

2021-2022 USFW Federal Duck Stamp
Peter Pearsall Western Meadowlark

Be a Malheur Refuge Advocate.

You can become a Malheur Refuge champion by joining the Friends of Malheur and together we can advocate for a secure and more prosperous future for Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and our national wildlife refuge system.