Message from the Board

Red hot sunrise at Camas by Patty Pickett



October 2018,  Tim Reynolds

Four W’s and the H

My grandfather was the editor of a newspaper in Northern Minnesota for nearly 70 years.  That’s right 70 years.  He was writing coherent and thought-provoking weekly editorials when he was in his 90s!!  All of his writings (even his eloquent and erudite Christmas letters) revolved around answering the basic questions of responsible journalism:  who, what, why, where, when and how.  Following is the same for Friends of Camas.

Who are we?  We are the Friends of Camas National Wildlife Refuge, Inc.; an all-volunteer organization consisting of individuals with an interest in anything or everything relating to the Refuge: science, outreach, monitoring, wildlife viewing, etc.  Friends of Camas is registered with the state of Idaho and recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, governed by a 9-12 member Board of Directors. 

What do we do?  Friends of Camas fosters environmental education, conservation, and scientific study at the refuge for the benefit of the resources and enjoyment by the visiting public.  Our By-Laws state: The purpose of the corporation is to promote the conservation of native fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats on the Refuge, provide educational opportunities, and foster understanding and appreciation of Camas National Wildlife Refuge, to include the Southeast Idaho Refuge Complex; Bear Lake NWR, Grays Lake NWR, Minidoka NWR, and Oxford Slough Waterfowl Production Area.


Why do we exist?  The primary reason is that Camas National Wildlife Refuge, as well as all refuges in the Southeast Idaho Refuge Complex and refuges throughout the US, is under-funded.  Friends of Camas, as an independent entity, can raise monies to provide funding for projects which support the Refuge mission but may not be exactly in line with mission priorities.  For example, the Nancy Maxwell Education and Conservation Pavilion was a Friends project which provides great benefit to the refuge and the public but was not a high funding priority for the Refuge day to day operations.


Where do we do what we do?  While Friends of Camas presently focuses our efforts at Camas NWR, we hope to expand our reach throughout the Southeast Idaho Refuge Complex in the future.


When did we start?  Friends of Camas had two beginnings.  First, in 2010, as an Unincorporated Nonprofit Association, which, for several reasons, was restructured into a Non-profit Corporation in 2014. 


How do we do what we do?  There are over 240 Refuge Friends groups nationwide.  Some of these refuges are near population centers, and the Friends groups there have the luxury of a large and active membership.  Many of the Friends groups simply get funding for projects from member dues or the revenue from gift shops associated with their Refuge.  Some have endowments which provide consistent long-term funding.  Some can count on fundraising events to provide both operating funds and project-specific funding. Due to our remote location and small membership, Friends of Camas has developed a unique funding model.    We have determined that, with one exception, our major events (Birds, Bugles and Brunch in September, and Come to Roost at Camas in February) are friend-raising events, not fundraising.  The exception is the Bird-A-Thon, which we share with the Snake River Audubon Society, and is only as successful as the ambition of the participants to get sponsors. Our primary financial avenue has been receiving grants and soliciting project-specific donations.  Since our inception we have received, in aggregate, over $125,000 in funds from the National Fish and Wildlife Refuge Friends Association, the CHC Foundation, the Idaho Native Plant Society, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Bayer Feed a Bee Program, Portneuf Valley Audubon Society, the Idaho Falconers Association, and some generous local donors.   Grants and our supporters are the keys to our success for the Nancy Maxwell Education Pavilion, the Peregrine Falcon web camera, and the Pollinator Garden:  projects which both elevate and enrich the Camas experience.  Unexpectedly, our “business model” has received a recent boost from a huge legacy donation from Rita Poe: someone we never knew, but someone who loved coming to Camas NWR.   We have invested her generous gift so that for years to come it will give us some flexibility and relief in the pursuit of funds for worthful projects. 


Come to visit the refuge and enjoy our successes.  There are more to come!

To view the previous View from the Board, click here.

What's New - 2018

 2018 Photo Contest Winners

Congratulations to the winners of this year's Photo Contest Winners.  All pictures will be added to the Photo Gallery.

The Grand Prize - Barn owl by Marya Moosman

First Place - Deer and fawn by Patty Pickett

2nd Place - Night heron on a post by Marya Moosman

3rd Place - Flower and bee by Delia Spencer

Honorable Mention - Kestrel head by Dave Spencer

Fred Meyer Rewards Program

You can help Friends of Camas NWR earn donations just by shopping with your Fred Meyer Rewards Card!

Fred Meyer donates over $2 million per year to non-profits in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, based on where their customers tell them to give. Here’s how the program works:

  • Sign up for the Community Rewards program by linking your Fred Meyer Rewards Card to Friends of Camas NWR at:

  • You can search for us by our name or by our non-profit number 85837.

  • Then, every time you shop and use your Rewards Card, you are helping Friends of Camas NWR earn a donation.

  • The great thing is that YOU still earn your Rewards Points, Fuel Points, and Rebates, just as you do today.

  • If you do not have a Rewards Card, they are available at the Custome Service desk of any Fred Meyer store.

For more information, please visit 

Refuge Notes

October 16, 2018

Fall is starting to set in quickly this year and with the recent overnight temperatures in the teens starting to see the effects.  All the surrounding mountains are white with snow which is always a welcome sign as it may mean runoff next spring.  On the Refuge itself, it had been a dry summer but recently have received some rain but could use more.  We are still running a couple of wells and holding some water in Big, Redhead and Center Ponds.  We will likely stop all pumping in the next couple of weeks.

Waterfowl still migrating through the area with a variety of ducks, (mostly dabbling still at this point) geese, and still good numbers of Sandhill cranes utilizing the shallow water in our wetlands.  It would appear most of the songbird migration has moved well to the south of us, on the warmer climates.  Still hawks and owls in the area, with red-tailed hawks by far the most frequent sightings.

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 some work before freeze up.  18 black cottonwood trees were planted to start replacing some of our shelterbelt habitat.  We plan on getting some native grass seed in the ground this week, and we will also be doing some work on the south end to the auto tour route.

Brian Wehausen, Refuge Manager

To view previous Refuge Notes,
click here.




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