In an article in The Atlantic Monthly, Finley recalled: "Here we were standing on the high head-land looking out over the land of our quest. Here spread at our feet was a domain for wild fowl unsurpassed in the United States."
Finley was so ecstatic that he fell out of his boat.
Plumed hats were all the rage at the turn of the century, and the birds had been killed for their feathers.
When Finley returned to his home in Portland, he shared his photos (some colored by hand) with Theodore Roosevelt. He urged the president to protect the area. That same year, Roosevelt created the Lake Malheur Reservation "as a preserve and breeding ground for native birds."
The land that Roosevelt set aside for the refuge was officially unclaimed federal land. But ranchers who had used that land for decades felt they had rights to it as well, setting the stage for a century-long battle.
This ad ran way back in 1920 during a campaign to drain Malheur Lake and sell the land to farmers. That campaign failed. Fifteen years later, Franklin Roosevelt added an additional 65,000 acres to the refuge.