Joseph Branch Trail Consortium

Joseph Branch Trail Consortium (JBTC) is a diverse group of citizens and organizations whose mission is to develop a viable multi-use plan for the Wallowa Union Railroad Authority’s (WURA) rail right-of-way.  A multi-use plan envisions:

  • effective and beneficial multiple uses of the WURA’s rail right-of-way for our region and citizens;

  • ascertaining realistic options for a rail-with-trail system in collaboration with the WURA, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Oregon Department of Transportation, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the Nez Perce Tribe, landowners with properties adjacent to the railroad right-of-way, and other agencies and stakeholders with trail uses, and the residents of Wallowa and Union counties;

  • increased public access —which will contribute to the growth of the regions’ economy as well as to the betterment of our health and quality of life;

  • honoring the rail’s and trail corridor’s history; and

  • establishing a legacy of responsible stewardship of our unique natural asset for future generations.

Joseph Branch Trail Consortium is made up of voices from the medical, outfitting, equestrian, bicycling, hiking, Nez Perce Trails Foundation, and other communities. 

Our Team

Union County

Name /Office


Charlie Gillis
La Grande, OR 97827

  • Attorney

  • Board Member, Blue Mountain Conservancy

  • Retired Nurse Practitioner

  • Interests: cross country skiing, bicycle touring, fishing

Kim Metlen
Imbler, OR 97841

  • Co-owner Oregon East Cycling

  • Co-owner, Joseph Branch Railriders

  • Member, Regional ODOT Transportation Advisory Committee

  • Promoter, Grande Tour Scenic Bikeway

Joe Kresse
La Grande, OR 97850 

  • Member of the Union County Planning Commission

  • Bicycle Representative of the Union County Transit Committee

  • Former President of the Friends of the Joseph Branch

  • Former President of the La Grande Forestry & Landscaping Committee

Wallowa County

Penny Arentsen, 2018 President
Joseph, OR 97846

  • Owner, Winding Waters River Expeditions

  • Outdoor recreation interests

  • Former coordinator of K-12 Natural Resource Science Programs at Wallowa Resources

  • Interests: Raising & playing with my kids, Cycling, Horseback Riding, Skiing, Hiking, Rafting

Dr. Emily Sheahan
Enterprise, OR 97828 

  • Family Physician at Mountain View Medical Group

  • Facilitator for Complete Health Improvement Program

  • Member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine

  • Member of the Oregon Academy of Family Physicians

  • Board member of the Eastern Oregon Healthy Living Alliance

  • Outside interests: spending time with my family enjoying the great environment that we live in hiking, rafting, camping, biking, running marathons, and playing volleyball.

John Baker, 2018 Treasurer
Wallowa, OR 97885

  • Retired Business Owner

  • Oregon Equestrian Trails, NE OR Chapter

  • Interests: Equestrian, River Rafting and Biking

Ron Polk, Pharm.D.
Lostine, OR 97857

  • Retired Emeritus Professor of Pharmacy and Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA

  • Interests: Fishing & Hiking



  • Vice President, Nez Perce National Historic Trail Foundation

  • Oregon Historic Trails Advisory Committee Member

  • Retired Educator

  • Equestrian Interests

Dick Seymour
Wallowa, OR 97885

Dennis Sands, Joseph, OR 97846




  • Mayor of Joseph, OR

  • City Councilor

  • NEOEDD Board Member

  • League of Oregon Cities Northeast Oregon Advisory Committee

  • Northeast Oregon Commission on Transportation

Ralph Swinehart, P.E.
Enterprise, OR 97828 

  • Owner, Wallowa Mountain Engineering

  • Board Member, Wallowa Band Nez Perce Trail Interpretive Center, Inc.

  • Board Member, Friends of the Joseph Branch

Attorney, Paige Sully P.C., 2018 Vice President
Enterprise, OR 97828

  • Member, Wallowa County Search and Rescue

  • Race Director, Wallowa Lake Sprint Triathlon

  • Treasurer, Eagle Cap Extreme Sled Dog Race

  • Interests: Trailrunner, Triathlete, and Mountain Biker

Jennifer Wing, 2018 Secretary