PENDLETON — Blue Mountain Wildlife has an annual budget of $200,000, so a recent $45,000 donation from a trust will provide a significant boost to the rehabilitation center.
The $45,000 is being provided by the Leona B. Ambrose Living Trust, an entity created to carry out the will of the late Ambrose. While Blue Mountain Wildlife may not have connected with her during her lifetime, Ambrose decided to donate significant amounts of money to the organization and to other bird sanctuaries in Oregon.
Lynn Tompkins, the co-founder and director of Blue Mountain Wildlife, said she isn’t planning on using Ambrose’s money for operational expenses. Instead, she expects Blue Mountain Wildlife to work with the Blue Mountain Community Foundation to use the gift as seed money for an endowment she hopes her organization can use for growth and to withdraw from for years to come.
Tompkins said she’s recommending these moves with the future in mind. “My goal is to make it sustainable past me,” she said.
For more than 30 years, Blue Mountain Wildlife has cared for wild animals, primarily birds of prey, who are seriously injured, often after coming into contact with humans. Each year, Blue Mountain Wildlife takes in more than 1,000 birds that get stuck in buildings, get shot by hunters or mistakenly ingest lead ammunition they find in carrion. During last year’s sweltering heat wave, the rehabilitation center took in dozens of chicks that threw themselves out of their nests to escape the blazing sun.
Beyond rehabilitating birds and returning them back to their habitats, Blue Mountain Wildlife has an educational component. For years, Tompkins would transport her rehabilitation center’s permanent avian residents to schools around the region to give students lessons about conservation.
But COVID-19 halted her trips to schools, and with her husband and co-founder, Bob, dying in March, Tompkins doesn’t have the same appetite for travel. “I’m at a point where I’m not going to drive all over the countryside,” she said.
That doesn’t meant Blue Mountain Wildlife is leaving behind the educational part of its mission.
The group recently built a new educational facility at its property, so visitors can view the birds the center uses for educational purposes away from the rehabbing animals. Tompkins said she would like to start granting money to schools to cover the costs of field trips to Blue Mountain Wildlife.
Tompkins is also hoping the $45,000 gift will aid Blue Mountain Wildlife’s efforts to build a new wildlife hospital on site.