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Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Fence Pull

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Fence Pull Difficulty Rating: 3 of 5 September 14 (Thursday PM) to September 17 (Sunday AM) The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge provides thousands of acres of critical habitat for avian species. We'll stay at the historic P Ranch under the backdrop of Steens Mountain and work in the nearby meadows to remove obsolete fence. Volunteers will camp, hike, restore and explore this incredible area. Click HERE for photos from last year's trip. Click HERE for additional trip details and registration links.
When Sep 14, 2017 05:00 PM to
Sep 17, 2017 12:00 PM
Where Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
Contact Name
Contact Phone (541) 330-2638
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Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is a truly amazing place of incredible value to wildlife, and it needs our help.  President Theodore Roosevelt dedicated the Lake Malheur Reservation on August 18, 1908 in order protect the area's extensive bird population from over zealous 'plume hunters' trying to supply the lucrative hat industry. It was later renamed the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and added to the National Wildlife Refuge System. Located about 30 miles south of Burns, the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 187,757 acres of wetlands, lakes, dry lakes, native grass meadows and many other land types. This huge diversity of land forms, vegetation and water make the Refuge incredibly vital for wildlife living in or passing through the northern Great Basin desert. Water, arguably the most critical component of the Refuge, comes primarily from the Donner und Blitzen and Silvies Rivers as well as Silver Creek.

Today the Refuge is best known for the same reason it was originally protected: birds. During seasonal migrations, the Refuge plays host to 20% of the world's population of white-faced ibis, as well as significant populations of pelicans and sandhill cranes.  The area is truly a birder's paradise and a bird's paradise.  Hundreds of thousands of birds depend on the Refuge every year for either permanent residence or for migration.  But this habitat needs care-taking, and significant restoration. With this restoration trip, ONDA continues our multi-year partnership with Refuge staff in order to ensure the long term survival of this critical area.

Malheur Refuge Storm
Watching an afternoon rain storm approach from the flanks of Steens Mountain. Photo by ONDA

Taking apart barbed wire fence is scratchy, hot, dusty, and incredibly satisfying work. We will use hand-tools to remove clips holding barbed wire to posts, roll up barbed wire, and pull metal fence posts. There is ample opportunity to choose specific tasks that match your fitness level and interest, and to switch tasks throughout the day.  We take frequent breaks and encourage folks to work at a sustainable pace.  No experience is necessary: We can teach all you need to know.  It is a wonderful feeling after a day's work to look back and see a landscape restored and fence-less. We will be away from camp all day, but everyone is encouraged to work at their own pace and take breaks as needed, as well as to relax and explore in the afternoons after work.

HERE is a Google Map showing the Refuge's general location.


  • Working under the shadow of Steens Mountain
  • Staying at the historic P Ranch
  • A behind the scenes, Sunday morning guided bird walk thanks to the Portland Audubon Society!
  • Late summer weather can be unpredictable



  • September 14th, Thursday.  Folks can arrive in the evening with enough time to set up camp (more information about camp is below).
  • September 15th, Friday. First of two days of removing fence. Possible short drive to work location. Exact location will depend on accessibility related to lake water levels. Bring a lunch to enjoy in the field.
  • September 16th, Saturday. Second of two days of pulling fence. Possible short drive to work location. Exact location will depend on accessibility related to lake water levels. Bring a lunch to enjoy in the field.
  • September 17th, Sunday.  Reward day! We will have a chance to see some "behind the scenes" territory on the refuge thanks to Portland Audubon Society.  After lunch we can all head home.


We will be camping at the historic P-Ranch site, owned by the Malheur Refuge. There is a bunkhouse with a few bedrooms (first come, first serve), a kitchen and bathroom. Otherwise, there is beautiful tent camping outside the bunkhouse or in your car in you prefer.   Since camp is at the vehicles you will be able to have all the amenities you can fit in your car.  Further details describing camp and driving directions will be provided to participants in the information e-mail three weeks before the trip.

Malheur Fence Pull
ONDA volunteers work to remove an old fence on the refuge in 2013. Photo by ONDA
Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Fence Pull
3 out of 5:
The terrain while uneven, will be flat, we will not be at high altitude, and we will be car-camping.  There will be plenty of opportunities for pacing oneself during the day, however, there are also are some tasks that will require some participants to do heavy lifting as well as hikes up to 4 miles each day.


Participants are responsible for their own food and food preparation, backpacking/camping gear as well as transportation to and from the trip. Sturdy off-trail ankle-high boots are recommended for this trip.


ONDA will provide tools for the work, leadership and a number of group camp items to make things more comfortable such as a few chairs, a cook table, and a sun/rain tarp.


This trip is led by ONDA’s Stewardship Coordinator, Michael O'Casey:
Group Size is limited to 15 people.
This trip is offered free of charge to members.

An ONDA registration application and medical form is required for this trip.
Click HERE for the form.  You only need to fill this form out once per year: You can join additional 2017 trips by e-mailing the trip leader directly.

You will receive a confirmation e-mail within 10 working days of submitting the form.  The confirmation e-mail will provide information regarding which trips you are on the “participant list” for, and which trips are full and so your name has been placed on the “wait list”. Six weeks before the trip starts the trip leader will send out an RSVP e-mail to make sure everyone is still available to participate. Three weeks before the trip begins, the trip leader will send out an e-mail with additional information, maps, driving instructions, car-pooling options etc. However, if you have any questions in the meantime, please don't hesitate to contact the trip leader at the e-mail address above.

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Oregon Natural Desert Association
50 SW Bond Street, Suite 4,
Bend, OR 97702
Tel: (541) 330-2638

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