Wallowa County Chamber of CommerceWhen you are 65 miles from a McDonald's or a Walmart, and two-and-a-half hours from the nearest mall, you will find a whole new definition of the phrase, "quality of life."

Here, the focus is definitely not on consumption. It's on family and community (the fastest way to reveal yourself as a visitor is to ask why we don't bother locking our front doors). It's on entrepreneurship. And perhaps above all, it's on outdoor beauty and recreation. Simply put, Wallowa County is a place of clean air, clean water and a sky full of stars that will take your breath away.

In our county you'll find an endless opportunity to contribute and be a vital part of the community. When there is a need, your neighbors never fail to rise to the occasion. When the county's economy was staggered by the loss of a vibrant timber industry, citizens worked together to form nonprofits and organizations to accept the challenges of sustainable land management, ecosystem health, family-wage jobs, and K-12 enriched education opportunities - preserving Wallowa County's rural way of life. When a business facilitator was needed for entrepreneurial development; the community gathered again and raised money to provide free coaching to local residents starting out in business.

The community relies on every one of its members to contribute, which is why you'll frequently find kids of all ages working alongside their parents to make things happen. When someone is sick or there's a death in a family, the community pulls through again with fundraisers, potlucks or whatever it takes to help.

Families of Wallowa County built the Ferguson Ridge Ski Area, 12 miles east of Joseph, in the 1960s. Each winter, residents gather to prepare the small hill for the new season. When the Enterprise City Park was in dire need of new equipment, family and friends turned out en masse with generous donations, and gave up their Mother's Day Weekend to install the new state-of-the-art equipment.

Family life is at the heart of our small, rural neighborhoods. In fact, most new kids moving in from larger areas cite "being able to meet my friends and go downtown by myself" at the top of their list of what they like best about Wallowa County life.

Kids here can bike, walk, shop, go to the movies, ice skate, golf, take the shuttle to the lake, take a ski bus to Ferguson Ridge Ski Area, walk to a river or creek to fish, meet friends at the library, or engage in any number of other activities - and you can know they are safe and the community is looking out for them.

It's a feeling rarely enjoyed by today's youngsters, but one that Wallowa County children - and their parents - gleefully take for granted.

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