The community had a vision for the East Moraine

Wallowa Lake's Moraine Partnership

In 2011, The Wallowa Lake Moraines Partnership (Partnership)—comprised of Wallowa County, Wallowa Resources, Wallowa Land Trust, and Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department—formally committed to protect the East Moraine from development so that it may continue to be a cornerstone of Wallowa County culture, nourishing both people and nature.

In 2006 money was granted to look into acquiring a large tract of land on the Wallowa Lake East Moraine. Wallowa County citizens gathered in Joseph in the fall of 2008 for a forum on the moraines. The overwhelming sentiment from the community was the moraines should be protected from overdevelopment.

This Management Plan continues the long tradition of stewarding Wallowa County’s natural resources in a manner that provides multiple benefits to the land and the community.

The Management Plan describes the governance structure and organizational roles established to manage the property. While the values protected by the easement are defined for perpetuity, this is a living document that recognizes that science and culture continue to evolve and adapt.

Conservation Values

The purpose of acquiring the Community Forest was so that it be retained forever in a relatively natural state with the goal of maintaining natural, healthy and ecologically sustainable characteristics of range and forest habitats.

Deed restrictions and a conservation easement will ensure these goals are upheld. Habitats will be maintained for plant and wildlife species dependent on the Community Forest while providing economic returns to the local economy through sustainable forestry and rangeland management.

It is also a purpose of the easement to maintain scenic, cultural, rangeland, and forestland open space uses; public recreation; and educational uses consistent with the protection of the conservation values of the Community Forest. To summarize, we value the East Moraine and this property:

    • As a relatively unaltered community treasure, providing unparalleled scenic views;
    • For its diverse and critical habitats, which support and connect a complexity of species;
    • For the longstanding cultural significance of the East Moraine and the Community Forest to its original inhabitants;
    • For its cultural history and the returns it provides to the local economy as a working landscape;
    • For its recreation and educational opportunities for the local community and visitors alike.
The Partnership is united in its desire to ensure balance across all uses and these conservation values.


Wallowa Lake Basin – Nez Perce camp on shore of Wallowa Lake. Photo taken by J.H. Romig in early 1900s. Courtesy of Wallowa County Museum.

The Partnership acknowledges that the singular relationship between people, culture, and the harvest of resources on the property and across the surrounding landscape predate Euro-American settlement when Nez Perce people inhabited the land prior to the Nez Perce War of 1877.

Nez Perce people, or Nimi’ipuu, were the first stewards of the Wallowa Valley. Practicing their seasonal round, they would travel across terrain and elevation in pursuit of an abundance of resources dependent on the land. They managed these resources through a variety of traditions and techniques including timed harvests, cultivation through consistent harvesting, raising livestock, and prescribed fire.

The present-day order in which resources are harvested and consumed, and the timing and care with which they are cultivated and prepared correlate with the order in which Nez Perce people believe plants and animals offered themselves in preparation for the arrival of people to the land.

Natural resources on the property and surrounding landscape are central to the lifeways, or Nimiipuu’neewit, of Nez Perce people, including diet, language, beliefs, ceremony and traditions. In the years leading up to and after the Nez Perce War of 1877, Euro-American settlement increased. Settlers developed traditions, economics and culture derived from the abundance of natural resources here as well as a management system of private land ownership.

Since that time, economy and culture have been shaped predominately by tillage farming, ranching and timber management by a combination of private and public landowners. Because of this history, the Nez Perce Tribe Cultural Resources Department played an integral part
in the origin of this multi-use management plan, working with Wallowa County and partners. 

This Management Plan continues the long tradition of stewarding Wallowa County’s natural resources in a manner that provides multiple benefits to the land and the community. Developed with the assistance of focus groups, local natural resource and recreation professionals, and feedback from the public during the original draft’s public comment period in 2021, the plan will guide the management and use of the East Moraine Community Forest. Over time, science, use and management may change and the plan will be updated as necessary.