Report from Program Meeting, January 26, 2016
The LCAS Board was notified the morning of January 25 that our Program speaker, Tim Blount, Director of Friends of Malheur, had been snowed in on the East Coast and would not make it to Eugene for the next night’s Program Meeting. We decided we should stick with the topic of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge since it had become such a hot news item, even though last fall when we scheduled the Program we of course did not know that an armed occupation of the refuge would occur. The Board worked together to come up with a plan to provide the audience a perspective on “What Is Special about Malheur.”
As we were about to start the Program, someone coming in the door told us of the breaking news about the occupier’s arrests, so we changed the game plan to include an announcement of that situation.
Jim Maloney introduced his slide show—a collection spanning 15 years of Malheur visits. The slide show ran throughout the evening, creating a backdrop of lovely Malheur scenery, birds, animals, and buildings, silently creating the mood.
Caryn Stoess read the report from the Harney County Sheriff about the arrests. Some had already heard about it so there was a lot of buzz, and we thought everyone in the room would want to know of this development.
Alan Contreras read a letter from Tim Blount explaining his absence and summarizing the situation at Malheur and his hopes for a resolution. Alan also told us that fundraising for Friends of Malheur has been fantastic (tens of thousands of dollars) as a result of the Bundy’s occupation. We laughed when Alan was talking and one of the slides behind him showed a grebe with chicks on its back—the audience oohed and aahed and Alan said that was tough competition, but he enjoyed the photos too.
Caryn again spoke about the Friends of Malheur group and the Malheur Field Station and described the work that each group does. Jim and Caryn both discussed the plans for an LCAS field trip to Malheur in April.
Debbie Schlenoff discussed the Malheur action items and what each of us can do to help the conservation effort. We created a “to-do list” card that lists the action items for everyone to take home. (The card will be posted on the LCAS website.)
During the last part of the program, we asked folks to speak to the group about what was special to them about Malheur. Twelve to 15 people spoke of their memories and experiences at Malheur. The evening became a celebration of Malheur with folks sharing their love for this special place. Many people thanked us for the inspiring evening and one told me it was a night to remember. We were brave to forge ahead with the Malheur topic, but we had a wonderful show of support from our audience—about 180 people attended!