It's hard to imagine, but there was a time Oregon's Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was a beloved bird sanctuary and not a clubhouse for armed anti-government protesters. But now that the last of those protesters has cleared out, various organizations are asking for volunteers to help clean and repair the wildlife refuge, the Oregonian reports. "We are relieved that the illegal occupation of Malheur NWR is over," US Fish and Wildlife says in a statement. "While we are now able to look forward to a new beginning, there is still much that needs to be done so that the community and the larger public can be welcomed back to their refuge."
Protesters occupied the wildlife refuge for 41 days before the last one surrendered to the FBI on Thursday. The Oregon Natural Desert Association and Portland Audubon Society made an online sign-up sheet for volunteers to help clean up whatever messes the occupiers made while there. "The place is just trashed," one volunteer tells the Oregonian after watching videos posted to social media by the protesters. Regardless, the Portland Audubon Society is looking at the bright side of the occupation: "Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most important bird refuges in the United States," the group states on its website. "The illegal armed occupation has increased awareness of this incredible place, the wildlife that depends on it, and the community that surrounds it." (Read more Oregon stories.)