Wallowa Land Trust just took another step in protecting the moraines of Wallowa Lake from development with a recent donation of 9 acres of prime lakefront property that includes 1,500 feet of shoreline. Brothers Fred, Frank and Steve Kimball of Washington donated the property, and the land trust took possession of the land Nov. 23.
The Kimball brothers inherited the property from their parents and didn’t want to see the land divided up or developed.
“This property was our parents’ dream; they poured their heart and soul into it, and we’re proud to honor them by keeping it the way it is,” Frank Kimball said.
Kathleen Ackley, executive director of the trust, lauded the family’s decision.
“They really wanted to protect the property, which has been in the family for around 60 years. Because it’s zoned R-3, they could have divided it up and put four houses on there.”
The undeveloped shoreline property includes several springs and streams as well as a combination of deciduous and coniferous forest, including a number of “habitat” trees that provide homes and protection to wildlife.
The land trust briefly spoke to the Kimball family about the land around 10 years ago but wasn’t ready to make a commitment at the time, according to WLT conservation director Julia Lakes. About 18 months ago family members called the land trust and said they were ready to get the ball rolling. A number of hurdles had to be cleared for the deal to go through, including some estate planning, property line assessment and an evaluation of whether the property met the land trust’s project selection criteria.
“We try to think of the area’s conservation values — what the habitat is — and our capacity to obtain the property,” Lakes said. “It’s a lot faster and simple with a donation.”
Though the property was donated, Ackley said the land trust still incurs expenses.
“A project like this is not free to the land trust. We pay for part of the land survey, we have to pay for environmental site assessment to make sure we’re not inheriting a nuclear waste dump, and we pay for Julia’s (Lakes) time looking over documents and doing a biological inventory of the property — and we also put together a management plan for the property.”
Ackley estimated that the land trust incurred about $60,000 in costs for the donation.
Besides protecting the property from development, the land trust also will manage the land as habitat for local wildlife, including the lake shore, which is a prime spawning area for Kokanee salmon.
“This is a public benefit because we’ve heard over and over from the community that they want to see the lake kept intact — they don’t want to see a lot of development, especially near the marina,” Ackley said.
Lakes said she appreciated the chance to work with the Kimballs in preserving the lake moraine.
“They were clear from the beginning they didn’t want to see houses on the shoreline and wanted to keep the forest and springs intact. I’m so proud we could help them fulfill their dream.”
Wednesday meeting, online survey
Wallowa Land Trust is hosting an informational meeting and public presentation at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 9, at Tomas Conference Room, 309 S. River St. in Enterprise. Executive Director Kathleen Ackley will provide an update on the land trust’s work to date and share information on the nonprofit’s current planning process.
At the same time, the land trust is seeking community feedback via a five-minute, anonymous online survey. The land trust is hoping “to get a full picture of the values people treasure,” according to a press release. You can complete the survey at www. wallowalandtrust.org.