Nils Christoffersen is the executive director of Wallowa Resources, an organization that seeks to wed local economic stability and the sustainable management of natural resources. Nils spent his early career farming on an Israeli kibbutz, working aboard a fishing boat, ranching in Australia, and exploring community land management in Southern Africa. Seventeen years ago Nils moved to Oregon and began his work with Wallowa Resources. Today, his feet planted broadly beneath a stand of mixed conifers, Nils gestures animatedly and asks us what kind of ecosystem we see.
The Westies spent the morning touring a series of forest sites in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest with Nils, stopping to analyze and discuss the management history at each stand. During our last hour together Nils led us through the Integrated Biomass Energy Campus, an entrepreneurial sawmill that processes unmarketable timber. This facility has created a market for understory timber and secondary growth, thereby reducing the amount of forest ground fuel and adding value to an underutilized resource. The business serves as a model of innovative stewardship. Is Nils stated: “Instead of being overwhelmed by change from the outside as things collapse and have others decide that we should be a destination resort or a prison …we could all work together on a new and different model that would advance this vision of socioeconomic revitalization and align it with land stewardship.”
By Maya Aurichio