Several months after the armed occupation of Malheur Refuge in January 2016, a contingent from the local community was the first group of volunteers to return to Headquarters at Malheur NWR. In a symbolic gesture of taking their Refuge back, they and subsequent work parties helped with numerous projects, including:
- Picking up trash around the complex and doing an inventory of items the Refuge no longer needed
- Reinforcing the willow fence around the observation blind at Marshall Pond and reseeding areas that had been disturbed by the occupiers and their illegal use of heavy equipment
- Replacing the Refuge sign at Headquarters
In the past, FOMR work parties (alongside volunteers from other organizations, including Audubon Society of Portland and Oregon Natural Desert Association) have also helped to maintain Refuge trails and kiosks, as well as remove unwanted fence posts and barbed wire from the Refuge. FOMR volunteers from as far away as Portland, Boise and Seattle have visited the Refuge to work on various projects.
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In 2018 a plan was germinated by the Friends Project Committee to build a more permanent garden for the Refuge’s pollinators. In August, Alice Elshoff, Friends Vice Chair and Linda Hoffman, Project Committee Co-Chairs made a presentation to Lisa Sanco of Worthy Garden Club in Bend, Oregon. Lisa immediately agreed to become the primary sponsor. Her considerable horticultural and graphic-design skills were most valuable in the garden’s design. The Worthy Garden Club, a 501c3 organization, is a strong supporter of sustainable and environmentally wise practices in business as well for home gardens. Their demonstration gardens on location at Worthy Brewery include a bee hive with supporting pollinating plants.
The Worthy Garden Club Pollinator Garden is located adjacent to the Friends of Malheur NWR Crane’s Nest Nature Center. A collection of informative material regarding native and non-native pollinators and plants that provide the nectar they require is available in the Nature Center. The garden can be viewed anytime the Refuge is open.
The Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, in conjunction with the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival, sponsored the annual Artist-in-Residence (AIR) program. Wildlife Refuge Specialist Carey Goss and a local artist spent eight days traveling to schools in Burns, Diamond, Frenchglen, Crane, Drewsey, Riley, Double O, and Fields. The program combines history, art and science and served almost 600 students in grades K-8. Students’ art is featured at the annual Harney County Migratory Bird Festival, along with artwork from Hines Middle School, Burns High School, Crane Union High School, homeschoolers, and other youth groups.
In October 2017, ten volunteers equipped with shovels, tampers, bars, levels, drills, buckets of gravel and paint brushes helped to replace the old, faded signs with new ones. Under the direction of FOMR Vice President Alice Elshoff, they removed all 38 of the old signs, replanted or replaced the posts, stained them and attached the new signs, which feature FOMR’s current logo alongside an illustration of pelicans with binoculars, people-watching from a red convertible.