“I’m pleased that the Forest Service was able to work with the City of Wallowa, Senators Wyden and Merkley, Representative Walden, the Maxville Center, and many others to make this transfer happen. We are happy to see that these historic buildings will be used to help tell the unique history of the area and the contributions of the community of Maxville and Wallowa County. I look forward to visiting in the near future”, stated Forest Supervisor John Laurence. The Forest will be hosting a ‘key-transferring’ celebration, tentatively planned for June, for anyone from the public to attend, more information to come.
In February 2011, Senators Wyden and Jeff Merkley co-sponsored the Wallowa Forest Service Compound Conveyance Act, requesting the transfer of ownership from the U.S. Forest Service to the City of Wallowa. The legislation requires the City of Wallowa to use the compound as a historical, cultural interpretation and education center managed by a nonprofit entity. The law further requires the compound to be managed with due consideration and protection for its historic values. Representative Greg Walden, in collaboration with the House Natural Resources Committee, was successful in passing legislation through the House. In August 2012, President Obama signed the Wallowa Forest Service Compound Conveyance Act into law. “Passing this plan today will allow the community to attract tourists and tell this unique history to visitors and residents alike,” Representative Walden said in a press release after the bill’s passage.
The Wallowa Compound’s rich heritage includes a fifty-four year period in which the Forest Service had an active presence in the town of Wallowa. The Wallowa Forest Service Compound was the original location of the Supervisor’s Office for the Wallowa National Forest in 1937 and served as a headquarters to several Ranger Districts until the mid-1970s. The rustic style of the early 1930’s Civilian Conservation Corps constructed buildings, as well as its central location in the City of Wallowa, makes it a perfect setting for the Maxville Heritage Interpretation Center’s future plans to house both a museum and education and research center.
The U.S. Forest Service would like to thank the City of Wallowa and all the key players involved in this transfer whose insight and tireless efforts will make the Wallowa Compound a part of the vital connection of modern generations to the rich history of the Wallowa Valley. Additional thanks goes to the Oregon Congressional Delegation for crafting and passage of legislation making the transfer of the Wallowa Forest Service Compound to the City of Wallowa a reality.