Katy Nesbitt
The La Grande Observer

WALLOWA — Woody Wolfe, of Wallowa, is well known for saying, “I’m more of a businessman than a farmer,” but keeping working lands working takes business sense and agricultural know-how.

For Wolfe, that means constantly thinking outside the box.

In 2004, Wolfe began a conversation about easements with the newly formed Wallowa Land Trust to shield his land from development and rising land prices. As a sixth-generation farmer, it’s important to him to protect his children’s ability to inherit the farm and continue the family business.

“Easements are mutually beneficial for both conservation and the landowner,” Wolfe said.

That first easement was completed in 2011, conserving 197 acres, including an ecologically and culturally important fishery where the Lostine and Wallowa rivers converge.

Wolfe donated a portion of the development rights for the first phase of the easement, and the Doris Duke Charitable Trust purchased the remainder at what Kathleen Ackley, Wallowa Land Trust’s executive director, called a bargain sale price.

On Aug. 15 Wolfe signed papers finalizing his second agreement with the Trust. A total of 463 acres are now conserved for farming and ranching and 146 acres are set aside exclusively for wildlife habitat.

“All of what we started discussing 13 years ago is now protected,” Wolfe said.

For the complete story, see the August 28 edition of The Observer.