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