Meet our Guests: Brian Kelly


Brian Kelly

Restoration Director, Greater Hells Canyon Council

Wallowa County, OR


Brian Kelly, the Restoration Director for the Greater Hells Canyon Council is polite, open to cooperation, but also a man of great conviction – one who is unlikely to back down from a fight.

As the Restoration Director of GHCC, Brian is primarily concerned with the relative ecological health and composition of the greater Hells Canyon area, extending from eastern Oregon across the Idaho border. Currently, Brian and his organization are involved in litigation proceedings against the United States Forest Service over the proposed “Lostine Corridor” project – a commercial timber harvest on the Lostine River Canyon in Wallowa County, a heavily trafficked, dense, wet forest area adjacent to the Eagle Cap Wilderness. They are arguing that the Forest Service illegally circumvented proceedings outlined in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) through a loophole known as a categorical exclusion (CE).

Aside from the striking beauty of the Lostine, Brian understands its importance more holistically, as an essential connectivity corridor, critical wildlife habitat, and a place that deserves careful consideration and analysis before management. Although Brian is a proponent of carefully managed public lands, he believes that the recreational and ecological status of this land is too great to concede to commercial timber interests.

In his parting statements, Brian reminded the group that although litigation should never come before cooperation, one must also do what is necessary to defend our public lands from mismanagement. 

By: James Baker

Photos by: Hannah Morel

Meet our Guests: Nils Christoffersen


Nils Christoffersen

Executive Director, Wallowa Resources

Wallowa County, OR


Nils Christoffersen’s smile comprises over half of his face. His frequent gesticulations and laughter make him gentle and approachable. His overall demeanor elevates his role as Executive Director of Wallowa Resources to one of an honest and genuinely passionate steward.  Nils is a jack-of-all-trades and an expert on the intersection between natural resource management and rural life.

Nils challenged the argumentation of strict conservation environmentalism. He changed the way students perceive the timber industry by describing the advantages of thinning forests. This thinning prevents more severe wildfires and provides material for Integrated Biomass Resources (IBR), a Wallowa Resources timber products subsidiary for small-diameter trees.

Nils’s ultimate goal is to see Wallowa County become a “robust and resilient” place in terms of economy and community. In other words, he would like to see this county be able to manage its recreational and natural resources in a manner that builds insulation from outside factors to the community that lasts for generations to come.

By: Isabel McNeill

Photo by: Mitch Cutter

Meet our Guests: Joe McCormack


Joe McCormack

Nez Perce Tribal Fisherman

Wallowa County, OR


Joe McCormack is a rancher, a Vietnam veteran, a fisherman, a watershed expert, and the only Nez Perce tribe member to still reside full-time in Wallowa County. He speaks with a slow, steady voice as his eyes move between each of us in the circle. The emotion not conveyed in his tone is communicated when his face cracks into a brilliant grin. Pausing mid sentence, to select from his plethora of stories and experiences, he shares the story of the Nez Perce on this land, the forced treaties, and dislocation that drove out his ancestors. Through this, he dismisses the notion that treaties “granted” the Nez Perce the right to the fish in these waters. Rather, Joe makes it clear that his people “reserved” a right that had always been theirs. He speaks of the abundance that these watersheds once held, and is dedicated to restoring those fish populations by collaboratively working with tribal and governmental agencies in order to manage the watersheds. The importance of this work is to increase the populations, even through the use of hatchery-raised fish. For Joe, the issue is not where the fish come from, but whether there are enough fish in the watershed for the Nez Perce to do as they always have.

By: Aliza Anderson-Diepenbrock

Meet our Guests: Todd Nash, Rod Childers, and John Williams


Todd Nash

Rancher, Wallowa County Commissioner


Rod Childers



John Williams

OSU Extension Officer

Wallowa County, Oregon


Todd Nash and Rod Childers are both cattle ranchers who have struggled to maintain their lifestyle after the reintroduction of wolves into Oregon, and Todd was elected in 2016 as a Wallowa County commissioner. John Williams is a recently retired Oregon State University Extension agent, and has conducted research on the impacts of wolves on cattle.

Todd and Rod have both experienced cattle losses due to wolf attacks, yet they remain committed to finding a civil and creative solution to the problem of wolf depredation on cattle. While the ranchers expressed their frustrations with the management of the species, they have accepted the wolves’ presence, but desire permission from the state and federal government to defend their own property. John’s research sheds light on how wolves impact cattle in ways other than plain depredation: an encounter between the two species can cause PTSD and create long-term behavior problems in cattle. John adds another dimension to the ranchers’ solution: he wants to normalize the killing of “problem wolves” by expanding wolf populations. This would allow ranchers like Todd and Rod to eliminate wolves that threaten their cattle and purge the wolf population of behaviors that bring them into conflict with humans.

By: Cindy Abrams

Photos by: Ethan Thomas and Mitch Cutter

Meet our Guests: Jenny Reinheardt


Jenny Reinheardt

Retired USFS Fuels Specialist, Wallowa Whitman National Forest

Wallowa County, Oregon


Jenny Reinheardt has been a fire specialist for much of her working life. She has both a professional and personal relationship to fire and is an extremely passionate public service steward. She recently wrote the Wallowa County Wildfire Protection Plan, which details the local history of fire and climate, and assesses fire risk across the county. Jenny has lit dozens of prescribed burns throughout her career, and is a testament to the power of humility, transparency and dedication when approaching controversial issues.

Jenny understands nuance and respects the complexity of the 21st century fire conversation. She explained how 1900’s fire suppression—which arose from the misguided notion that fire is only detrimental and would cripple the growing timber industry—has resulted in the massive fuel buildup we see today. Jenny believes “we have actually eliminated nature’s ability to clean up her floor,” and she identifies prescribed fire as the necessary step in a larger hands-on approach to forest recovery. She recognizes there lies ahead a long process of clearing forest floors and thinning overcrowded stands to decrease the intensity of future wildfires. However, she remains committed to reducing threats posed to wildland-urban interfaces one prescribed burn at a time.

By Amara Killen

Photo by James Baker

Meet our Guests: Doug McDaniel


Doug McDaniel


Wallowa County, OR


Standing with arms crossed over a shirt that faded seamlessly into the backdrop of blue Oregon sky while his border collie Hawk nuzzled his boots, octogenarian Doug McDaniel looked every part the rancher. Doug was born and raised in Wallowa County, and after a career in road construction, he now devotes his considerable passion and energy to a venture close to his heart: restoring the natural meanders of the Wallowa River where it flows through his ranch. As he walked us along its banks, we learned how Doug’s resources and vision enabled the rehabilitation of the riparian areas he recalls from his childhood, even if, while navigating a myriad of bureaucracies, that meant absorbing tens of thousands of dollars in losses to his own pocket. Said Doug while looking lovingly out over his river, “Everybody needs a-piece-uh land they can take care of . . . The only good belief is one you’ve got some conviction in.”

By Noah Dunn

Photo by James Baker