Message from the Board

November 2020

Mark DeHaan

“Yes, it is that time of year again,” I thought as I watched a chipmunk filling his/her cheek pockets with milkweed down. As it scurried back to her nest with the prize, I reflected on what a strange and difficult year this has been. Because of Covid-19, most of our yearly public activities at the Camas National Wildlife Refuge had to be canceled or curtailed. But even so, attendance at Camas was extremely high as people sought outdoor recreation during the social distancing. This just highlights an often overlooked important purpose of  National Wildlife Refuges such as Camas. How nice it is that one can easily drive to a place with plenty of space to slow down and experience nature.

In the coming year, Friends of Camas have plans to: erect a raised observation platform to better view the marshes, study ways to maximize water distribution through the Refuge,  continue the Pronghorn migration studies described in last month's article, as well as further enhancing our existing features.  

Camas NWR was one of the refuges featured in the latest (Fall 2020) issue of Audubon magazine in the story “Sanctuaries Under Strain”. The article highlights how severe, long-term underfunding has resulted in the decay of  NWR's management and maintenance. We are always looking for new revenue streams, and thankfully Nature has an amazing capacity for renewal. 

We will get through this year and the sun will rise over the tules again.

Just a bit further down the trail, I watched a Gophersnake prowling. I wished him well, but also hoped the chipmunk safety and a nice, warm winter hibernation. Life is a precarious balance with so many opposing forces. And a year like 2020 shows that the nation's Refuges are critical not only for fish and wildlife wellbeing but for our health too. Be safe, be well.

Refuge Manager's Notes

Brian Wehausen, 

Camas National Wildlife Refuge October 21, 2020

By the looks of the weather forecast the remaining open water we have on the Refuge will start to freeze over, causing many of the waterbirds we now have on the Refuge to move south.  So far the fall has been reasonably mild temperatures and no significant precipitation.  At this time it looks like we will head into winter dry, so we can only hope for a big snowpack to take shape over winter to help us fill our wetlands in 2021.

The Refuge is currently still pumping water into our wetland complex and we do have water in Big Pond, Redhead and Toomey on the auto-tour route.  In the next week or so we will start shutting down our wells as water starts to freeze up.  Still good numbers of Sandhill cranes using the Refuge along with geese and a variety of dabbling ducks.  As far as the songbird migration numbers have dropped drastically in the last two weeks, showing the migration is well past us for this fall.

White-tailed have been more active and visible around Refuge headquarters as of late.  Their breeding activity should come into full swing in the next month or so.  Deer numbers appear to up from recent years.  Elk numbers remain about the same and still provide viewing opportunities. 

Refuge staff is completing fall work and winterizing equipment that will be stored now for the season.  Fall mornings are a great time to come out to the Refuge and see wildlife before winter actually sets in for good.

Our biological staff had a busy fall especially with the weather cooperating with many of the tasks.  This fall we began trials of treating cheatgrass with herbicide in areas that also have native communities.  Our hope is that the herbicide will set the cheatgrass back to a point that native grasses and forbs can flourish and reclaim these areas.  Some of our early work has had positive signs so if the trends look good we will be expanding this technique in future years to suppress cheatgrass.

What's New 

Honoring Mary Dolven

  It is with heavy heart, Friends of Camas honors Mary Dolven.  Mary was an active member of the Friends of Camas organization and served on its board for many years. Mary's dedication and work on behalf of the Camas National Wildlife Refuge helped to bring about many improvements.  Donations in Mary's name can be made to Friends of Camas through the PayPal link above.  On the line "add special instructions" you can enter Mary Dolven's name and Friends of Camas will notify the family of your donation.  

And the Winner Is!

     Annual Photo Contest

Grand Prize:

Patty Pickett

First Place:

Michael Chatt

Second Place:

Patricia Alexander Johnson

Third Place: 

Dave Spencer

Honorable Mention

Michael Wu




Friends of Camas NWR Inc. 
2150 E 2350 N
Hamer, ID 83425