Ongoing Projects

Volunteers Needed. Please visit the Events Page for details.

John Scharff Migratory Bird Festival:


Representing Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Friends of MNWR organizes and leads birding tours for the annual John Scharff Migratory Bird Festival. The popular Birds and Brunch Tour includes birding in the Harney Basin and brunch at Refuge Headquarters.


Fence Removal:

fence removal

Volunteer work parties continue to remove obsolete barbed wire fences that pose a threat to wildlife.


Walking Trails:

Friends of MNWR volunteers are working with refuge staff to create and improve walking trails on the Refuge. Ask at Refuge Headquarters about our new Crane Pond Overlook Trail.

Annual Litter Clean-Up:

annual litter cleanup

Volunteers come together each spring to pick up trash along five miles of Highway 205 north of Frenchglen and Steens Mountain Road to Page Springs.

Want to pitch in?

send an email to for more information and sign up for the next party.

Completed Projects

New Sign Guides Visitors:

New signs guide visitors

With help from PRIDE (Positive Results from Innovation, Determination and Energy), a local grass roots organization dedicated to improving the local community, Friends of MNWR designed, purchased, and presented to the Refuge a large new sign along Hwy 78 near the Poison Creek Grange Hall. The sign, with sandhill cranes pointing the way, invites visitors to "Discover Malheur National Wildlife Refuge."


Microscopes For Educational Programs:

Alice with microscope

Friends of MNWR presented three new microscopes to the Refuge for use in student education programs. One of the microscopes is digital and connects to a computer so images can be stored and projected for easy viewing.


Narrows Parking Area:

Narrows Road

Friends of MNWR was the catalyst in bringing together refuge staff, the Oregon Department of Transportation, County Transportation Commission, Harney County Court, and the Harney County Chamber of Commerce to secure safe off-road parking at the Narrows for wildlife viewing. This project is possible because of time, equipment, and dollar donations from the above participants as well as dedicated funds from the John Scharff Migratory Bird Festival. The new parking area was completed in October 2003, and interpretative panels were installed in spring 2007.


Local Lodging Options for Refuge Visitors:

Perhaps you wish to join the fun but don't know where to stay. Here are several options.

Completed Projects

Blitzen River Riparian Restoration:

riparian restoration

A fast-learning, hard-working crew of volunteers from the Central Oregon Flyfishers (COF), organized by Jen Bock, ODFW-STEP Biologist, and Gene McMullen of the COF, planted hundreds of willow, dogwood, and elderberry cuttings raised in the Friends of MNWR clone bed along two miles of the Blitzen River. The goals are to restore native riparian vegetation to one of Southeast Oregon's treasured redband trout streams and provide high quality woody and herbaceous shrubs to benefit numerous wildlife species.


Fencing at Sod House Ranch:

fencing at Sod House

A small crew of "lady power," assisted by one gentleman on the chain saw, built an attractive rustic fence at the historic Sod House Ranch in preparation for opening the ranch to the public. Sod House Ranch was the northern-most outpost for the huge Peter French cattle empire. Several of the original buildings are intact at the site. Sod House Ranch is open to the public and available for tours from August 15 through October 31.


Auto Tour Route:

autotour ruote

The auto tour route along the 42-mile Center Patrol Road is now complete. Nineteen signed stops mark the way and are interpreted in a script available at Refuge Headquarters or on-line. The script touches on the natural and cultural history and geology of the area, provides information about the plant and animal life found on the Refuge, and highlights current refuge management. Download the PDF copy of this brochure or pick up a copy at the Refuge Visitor Center. Visit the Autoroute Page to download the MP3 files of the Auto Tour.