Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
Pacific Region


Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was established on August 18, 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt as the Lake Malheur Bird Reservation. Roosevelt set aside unclaimed lands encompassed by Malheur, Mud and Harney Lakes “as a preserve and breeding ground for native birds.” The newly established “Lake Malheur Bird Reservation” was the 19th of 51 wildlife refuges created by Roosevelt during his tenure as president. At the time, Malheur was the third refuge in Oregon and one of only six refuges west of the Mississippi.

The Refuge is located 30 miles south of Burns, Oregon in the southeast corner of the state. The Refuge is open from dawn until dusk each day. The Visitor Center at Refuge Headquarters will be open from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm each day beginning March 10. Brochures are available in brochure boxes outside of the Visitor Center. The Refuge Museum, located at Headquarters, is open from dawn until dusk each day.

You may also be interested in recent bird sightings in the area.

2014 Youth Conservation Corps Program

The Refuge will be accepting application for our 2014 Summer Youth Conservation Corps Program from April 1 - May 2, 2014. Download the Application to learn more about this program at the Refuge.

The Refuge and the Burns Interagency Fire Zone conducted a prescribed burn on February 25th in the south Blitzen Valley to reduce decadent vegetation in sagebrush steppe uplands and to reinvigorate emergent marsh plants. Decadent vegetation in this 1900 acre burn was very thick and was not being utilized at an optimal level by wildlife - especially nesting birds. The emergent marsh habitat in Cottonwood Pond and West Knox Pond that was burned will remain dry for one year. Cattail and bulrush tubers in portions of Cottonwood Pond will be disked to create more open water areas. The uplands will begin to green up as spring rains encourage growth of forbes and grasses. The fire burned quickly through the upland habitat and shrubs will begin to re-sprout as temperatures warm up. By next year this area will offer prime nesting habitat for upland birds and waterfowl on the edges of the uplands adjacent to the marsh.

The burn area is adjacent to the Center Patrol Road and visitors will be able to see the results of the burn as the vegetation responds to this management treatment. Fire is one tool the refuge uses to manage habitat for optimal wildlife use. Prescribed burns are conducted in the winter to minimize wildlife impacts and to take advantage of spring rains and snow melt runoff from Steens Mountain to enhance vegetation responses after the fire.

Tundra swans loafing on East Know Pond while a prescribed burn occurs in the background

Tundra swans on East Knox Pond while a prescribed burn occurs in uplands and marsh in the south part of the Blitzen Valley.


Uplands and emergent marsh burn during a prescribed fire

Sagebrush steppe burns on the left side of this image, while emergent marsh burns on the right side.

Travel Advisor

The Center Patrol Road has had rock and gravel added to the surface to improve road stability and improve year-round road conditions.

Unfortunately this has resulted in an increased number of flat tires for visitors and staff. Please be advised that your tires should have good tread on them and be in good condition before travelling on portions of the northern section of the Center Patrol Road.

We are sorry for any inconvenience.

Support Aquatic Health - Scale by Scale

 Leave more than a memory at Malheur, purchase a scale for "Byrdie" to benefit Aquatic Health related projects!

Byrdie - a wood sculpture of a carp - will be covered with scales to help combat invasive common carp

Together, we can provide assistance and support to our Refuge to ensure the health of fish and wildlife by Scaling Back Carp. Purchasing a scale for Byrdie will directly support fish inventory and monitoring, fish collection and tagging, and other fisheries related work. Inquire at the Visitor Center located at Refuge Headquarters or by calling 541-493-2612.

Get Involved with the Refuge

The Refuge offers a variety of volunteer opportunities which contribute to the overall management of the Refuge. Members of the public can also join the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Learn more about what's happening on the Refuge

The Aquatic Health program is making great strides in understanding how invasive common carp are effecting refuge wetlands. The week of September 17th was spent sampling carp at various locations on the refuge. Kidney samples were obtained from 120 carp to obtain bacteria samples. Fisheries biologists were also recording the various age classes of carp caught in nets to obtain a clearer understanding of population sizes. Check out our new brochure to learn more about this problem.

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, 36391 Sodhouse Lane, Princeton, Oregon 97721 (541) 493-2612

Last updated: March 6, 2014