Giving Back to Malheur

by Teresa Wicks, Eastern Oregon Field Coordinator

Eastern Oregon is home to some of the most spectacular landscapes and important bird habitats in Oregon. The cerulean and emerald wetlands of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge along with the ruddy rimrock, gray-green sagebrush, juniper-speckled hills of Steens Mountain, and other geologic features have provided respite to birders for nearly a century. Now more than ever, the places and species that bring us so much joy, solitude, and comfort deserve our support and reciprocity. In 2022, Bird Alliance of Oregon has a diversity of programs for engaging with Malheur and the Harney Basin.

Small group of people in large field of tall wheat grass with buckets in their hands walking

As part of our commitment to equity and inclusion in the outdoors, Bird Alliance of Oregon is working with local, regional, and national partners and organizations to provide access to gear while birding, camping, and participating in events in Harney County. In 2021 we worked with Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge with funding from the Oregon Wildlife Foundation to build 15 “Explorer Packs,” Osprey backpacks with binoculars and a variety of ID guides in them. Ten of these backpacks are available for Harney County residents to check out from the Harney County Library, and five are available to borrow from the Nature Store at Malheur Headquarters. Additionally, we were fortunate to receive a donation of binoculars and a scope from Leupold and Stevens for participants to borrow during our bird outings.

More recently, we received a grant from the Roundhouse Foundation to start building a gear library. This library will have camping gear available for participants to use during our stewardship weekends and other overnight events at Malheur and in the larger Harney Basin. Eventually, we hope to provide assistance with gas or travel to the Harney Basin to further remove barriers to participating in our exciting conservation programs in southeastern Oregon.

These multiday events are for folks who want to get their hands dirty. Join Bird Alliance of Oregon and local partners in restoring wildlife habitat in Harney County (and of course doing some great bird watching!)

To learn more about these and other opportunities, click on the individual pages or go to the Restore Malheur Facebook page. Questions? Contact Teresa Wicks, Eastern Oregon Field Coordinator, at