Dan Price carries the load volunteering at remote Little Pend Oreille NWR

Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge is tucked away in the extreme northeast corner of Washington, just about 50 miles from the border with Canada. There you’ll find all sorts of wildlife, including bear, wolves and moose.

You’ll also find Dan Price.

Dan served as the refuge’s primary volunteer during the coronavirus pandemic. Dan regularly volunteers on the refuge, helping with … well, everything. In 2020 he contributed 122 hours, mostly in maintenance projects with a smattering of habitat and recreation volunteer time thrown in.

“It was definitely an oddball year for me. It was a little lonely,” said Dan, who also serves as the Friends of Little Pend Oreille NWR president. “We had an increase in visitors and we were fairly busy in the campgrounds, so there was a lot of work for one volunteer. Mainly what I do in the summer is maintain the campground and trails, particularly McDowell Educational trail because that is ADA-barrier free.”

In a more normal year, Dan usually volunteers more than 250 hours while helping to coordinate the annual environmental education days, and hosting 2nd and 5th grade field trips from Colville School District. Dan also maintains the refuge’s bluebird houses.

“I enjoy getting out and doing the citizen science and habitat work,” Dan said. “We have a couple meadows that have about 65 bluebird boxes around it. I clean them and see what was in there from the year before. I can explain to people that the reason we have so many bird boxes is that we don’t have a lot of snags (standing trees that are dead) with cavities for nesting. It’s interesting learning from our biologists and being able to pass that information along to people.”

For Dan, he owes his interest in the outdoors to his mom.

“I’ve always been into wildlife and protecting wilderness because my mom got me into that,” Dan said. “Over the last five or six years, I’ve been fortunate enough to be partially retired so I’ve been able to volunteer more. I enjoy being outside and talking with people about the refuge. I like being an advocate not only for our refuge, but for all refuges.”

Dan takes his commitment to the refuge on the road when he travels. He attends many national Friends of the Refuge meetings and trainings, and often visits other refuges to exchange information with other Friends groups.

- Article by Jerry Cline, Little Pend Oreille NWR manager, and Brent Lawrence, public affairs officer based in the Columbia Pacific Northwest regional office.

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