Malheur Lake is the raison d’etre for the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, currently much in the news. It is a huge fresh water lake and marsh system in Oregon’s Great Basin country of Harney County, where most of the bodies of water are internally drained, and therefore salty, like the Great Salt Lake. Malheur Lake forms from the run off of the Steens Mountain, seen as a snow-covered ridge in the background of this image. Steens Mountain is the largest fault block mountain in the world, and traps a huge supply of water in the winter snow pack, which is gradually released in spring and summer to form this biologically rich and unique area. Being the only fresh water system in this vast desert landscape, many migrating birds and other wildlife stop or live here. The lake in turn drains into the nearby Harney Lake, which is a salt lake, and internally drained, similar to the other Great Basin lakes. My mentor, Leonard Conkling, whom I’m celebrating in these posts, accompanied me on many trips to photograph the unique landscapes and birds of the Malheur Refuge and surrounding spectacular terrain. Click on image to enlarge.