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Thank You Everyone!


The breathtaking beauty of Wallowa Lake’s East Moraine forest and open space was permanently protected in January 2020 when almost 1,800 acres were transferred into Wallowa County ownership.

For over ten years the Wallowa Lake Moraines Partnership – a consortium comprised of the County, Wallowa Land Trust, Wallowa Resources, and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department – worked to acquire the property in order to eliminate any risk of home development, especially on the moraine’s vulnerable crest.  Now that it is under Wallowa County ownership, all development and subdivision rights have been extinguished and the property will be managed as a working community forest, protecting native plants, wildlife habitat, and cultural resources while providing non-motorized recreational access and returns to the local economy through sustainable forestry and grazing.

“We couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome that serves the public’s need for permanent protection and access to this spectacular natural landscape,” said John Hillock, Wallowa County Commissioner and Chair of the East Moraine Campaign.

Read the full press release here.

What are the benefits of securing the East Moraine?


With the East Moraine secured, it provides a multitude of benefits to our community and the state of Oregon:

  • Preserves the internationally famous scenic beauty of this ancient and vulnerable glacial landform.
  • Protects habitat for imperiled plants and wildlife.
  • Protects 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. 
  • Provides an unparalleled outdoor classroom for students to learn about geology, ecology, botany, biology and more.
  • Provides 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. 
  • Ensures a sacred ethnographic landscape is safe from future development.
  • Supports jobs and the local economy through continued timber and ranching activities. 

Our Opportunity


After almost a decade of negotiations, the Wallowa Lake Moraines Partnership successfully entered into a binding agreement in January 2019 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 had one year to raise nearly $6.5 million to complete the transaction. The Partnership had already raised almost $3.7 million from the USDA Forest Service Forest Legacy Program, more than fifty percent of the funds needed.  

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

Thanks to the enlightened stewardship of many generations of landowners, the East Moraine had remained largely undeveloped and looks today much like it did a hundred years ago.  However, without action, the East Moraine was at threat of residential development – which would have permanently marred what is considered a “text-book perfect” example of a glacial moraine. 

With the successful acquisition in January 2020, a significant portion of Wallowa Lake’s East Moraine became publicly owned. The property is now owned and managed by Wallowa County. In time, it will serve as a model for sustainable forest and rangeland stewardship while protecting critical habitat and providing opportunities for recreation and community access.  

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 have likely been transformed forever by development. Under current zoning, up to 15 homes could have been built on the East Moraine, including three on the iconic crest. A private dock, a conference center and associated facilities could also have been built.

east moraine oregon sub division map

Our Vision

We have now permanently extinguished 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

The Campaign


Moraines Partnership

Thank You! Your Gift is Tax-Deductable!

moraine funds thermometer

The Wallowa Lake Moraines Partnership secured nearly $6.5 million by January 17, 2020 to acquire the Ronald C. Yanke Family Trust’s East Moraine property. With an original goal of $6,556,555, the Partnership has since found the management of the property will exceed the expected original cost and continues to raise funds for the stewardship of the 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