Our Opportunity


After almost a decade of negotiations, the Wallowa Lake Moraines Partnership has successfully entered into a binding agreement to purchase 1,791 acres from the East Moraine’s largest landowner, the Ronald C. Yanke Family Trust. Encompassing approximately 60% of this iconic ice-age landscape, the Partnership has one year to raise $6.5 million to complete the transaction. See the Campaign Section to see how far we've come.

With this acquisition, a significant portion of the Wallowa Lake Moraines will become publically owned – serving as a model for sustainable forest and rangeland stewardship while protecting critical habitat and providing opportunities for recreation and community access. Once acquired, the property will be owned and managed by Wallowa County.

Thanks to the enlightened stewardship of many generations of landowners, the East Moraine has remained largely undeveloped and looks today much like it did a hundred years ago. However, without action, the East Moraine is at threat of residential development – which would permanently mar what is considered a “text-book perfect” example of a glacial moraine. The Wallowa Lake Moraines Partnership has secured a deal to prevent this by entering into an agreement with the Ronald C. Yanke Family Trust to purchase their property outright and transfer it into public ownership.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure a natural wonder, one of the most spectacular glacial landforms in the United States.

About the Wallowa Lake Moraines Partnership


wallowa lake moraines partnership logo

Moraines Partnership formed in 2011. A public-private coalition, the Partnership is made up of the Wallowa County Board of Commissioners, Wallowa Resources, Wallowa Land Trust and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. The goals of the Partnership are to:

  • provide public access respectful of the landscape and its scenic beauty.
  • protect open space for wildlife, recreation, and natural resources; and,
  • maintain sustainable working landscapes of farms, forests and rangeland to contribute to the local economy and rural ways of life.

Where are the Wallowa Lake Moraines?


What is a Moraine?


wallowa lake moraine formation 1Located just outside the town of Joseph, Oregon and at the base of the Wallowa Mountain Range, the Wallowa Lake Moraines are among the most classic and complete examples of Pleistocene moraines found in North America, offering unparalleled education on glacial history and climate change. Often referred to as "textbook perfect," these moraines are featured in geology textbooks across the United States.

The East Moraine is the largest undeveloped moraine of the Wallowa Lake assemblage. The moraines are comprised of piles of gravel transported and deposited by glaciers beginning some 300,000 years ago. The word is derived from the 18th century French term morena meaning “mound of earth” and from the Provencal French term morre, meaning “snout.” When the glaciers last retreated around 19,000 years ago, Wallowa Lake formed in their wake, at the heart of Wallowa County.

The moraines are connected to the largest unit of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, encompassing 1.7 million acres. Contained within its boundary is Oregon’s largest protected area, the 360,000-acre Eagle Cap Wilderness, as well as the 217,000 acre Hells Canyon Wilderness.

Our vision for the East Moraine


Wallowa County residents are proud of their community, their culture and their rural agricultural heritage. The stunning beauty of this corner of northeast Oregon is one that has inspired photographers, hikers, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts from around the world. Each year we see a greater influx of visitors and new residents. As Wallowa County increasingly becomes a “must see” destination, we have a unique opportunity to plan strategically for the future and ensure that we don’t destroy the very things that make this place so desirable to live, work and play: the wildlife, the open spaces, the farms and ranches and the rural lifestyle.

wallowa lake moraine erratic d jensen 1Photo © Dave JensenBy securing the East Moraine as a community forest, our vision is to serve as a model for collaborative conservation in rural communities across the West. Working together, we will ensure that one of the most unique and irreplaceable landscapes in Oregon remains forever undeveloped and is open to the public. The East Moraine will continue to connect distinct habitats and be home to a multitude of species. As a working landscape, our vision is to be an industry leader for sustainable forestry, using the best stewardship science available to sustain the natural integrity of the landscape and the economic integrity of our local community.

Protecting this landscape means protecting a treasure that provides habitat, scenic beauty, recreational opportunities, natural resources and ecosystem services that benefit multiple generations of Oregonians.

Development Potential

Without action, the East Moraine will likely be transformed forever by development. Under current zoning, up to 15 homes could be built on the East Moraine, including three on the iconic crest. A private dock, a conference center and associated facilities could also be built.

east moraine oregon sub division map

Our Vision

We will permanently extinguish the ability to develop the East Moraine property and will steward it for the benefit of the community, protecting unique plants and wildlife, providing recreational opportunities and supporting the economy through forestry and grazing.

east moraine oregon community forest map

What are the benefits of securing the East Moraine?


Securing the East Moraine will provide a multitude of benefits to our community and the state of Oregon:

  • Preserving the internationally famous scenic beauty of this ancient and vulnerable glacial landform.
  • Protecting habitat for imperiled plants and wildlife.
  • Protecting the water quality of Wallowa Lake, which provides drinking water for the town of Joseph and supports ESA-listed fish populations of steelhead, Chinook salmon and bull trout in the Wallowa River system. 
  • Providing an unparalleled outdoor classroom for students to learn about geology, ecology, botany, biology and more.
  • Providing world class recreational opportunities with miles of trails that will eventually connect to the extensive trail system within the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and Oregon’s largest wilderness area, the Eagle Cap Wilderness. 
  • Ensuring a sacred ethnographic landscape is safe from future development.
  • Supporting jobs and the local economy through continued timber and ranching activities. 

The Campaign


Campaign for the East Moraine Logo

Thank You! -Your Gift is Tax-Deductable

moraine funds thermometer

The Wallowa Lake Moraines Partnership needs to secure $6,567,948 no later than January 29, 2020 to acquire the Ronald C. Yanke Family Trust's East Moraine property.

For the 1,791 acre Ronald C. Yanke Family Trust property
Legal fees, due diligence, fundraising and closing costs
For annual maintenance, multiple-use management and payment in lieu of taxes
Funds Raised as of 1/6/2020  
LWCF Forest Legacy Grant Award: -$3,673,928
Gifts from individuals: -$1,119,141
Oregon Parks & Recreation Department: -$1,000,000
Nez Perce Tribe: -$300,000
Land Trust Alliance/Yarg Foundation: -$22,264
Collins Foundation: -$135,000
Oregon Community Foundation: -$100,000
Conservation Alliance: -$40,000
Rose E. Tucker Charitable Trust: -$10,000
Walker Family Foundation -$25,000
Travel Oregon -$50,000
Cycle Oregon -$5,000

Frequently Asked Questions


Who is the Wallowa Lake Moraines Partnership?

As a result of community concern over the future of the East Moraine, the Wallowa Lake Moraines Partnership was formed in 2011. This unique public-private collaboration is made up of Wallowa Land Trust, Wallowa Resources, Wallowa County and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. The goals of the Partnership for the East Moraine are to:

  • provide public access respectful of the landscape and its scenic beauty.
  • protect open space for wildlife, recreation, and natural resources; and,
  • maintain sustainable working landscapes of farms, forests and rangeland to contribute to the local economy and rural ways of life.

Together the Partnership is working with local landowners, community members, elected officials and other interested stakeholders to permanently conserve the East Moraine. 

What's it like, standing at the top of this amazing place?

View the Panorama