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.  JBTC is made up of voices from the Wallowa Valley Community, including medical, outfitting, equestrian, bicycling, hiking, Nez Perce Trails Foundation, and other groups. 

Our Team


Name /Office

About


Jennifer Wing, Secretary
Joseph, OR

A Washington native, Jennifer is from a fifth generation 12,000 acre irrigated family farm in south central Washington. She moved to Wallowa County in 2006 to use her OSU degree in Forestry. However, while here she saw healthcare as a growing field and obtained a nursing degree. She joined the JBTC Board to improve our community’s overall health by providing recreation opportunities to enjoy Wallowa County’s amazing landscape to everyone of every age and ability. She believes that this trail will be a legacy providing an attractive, safe, accessible space to allow people of all ages and abilities to incorporate exercise into their daily routines, for generations to come.

Jennifer Wing
  • Nurse at Wallowa Memorial Hospital

  • Avid hiker, backpacker, skier & cyclist

  • Member, Ferguson Ridge Ski Patrol

  • Interests: Adventure, agriculture, healthy communities, getting people outside.


Kim Metlen
Imbler, OR

Board Advisor

  • Co-owner Oregon East Cycling

  • Co-owner, Joseph Branch Railriders

  • Member, Regional ODOT Transportation Advisory Committee

  • Promoter, Grande Tour Scenic Bikeway


Kyle Bratcher
Enterprise, OR  

My interest in the trail started with the potential of better fishing access to the Wallowa River between Rock Creek and Rondowa.  While I'm still interested in future fishing access, my interest has shifted to using the trail for evening walks with my girlfriend, Emily, and pup, Keta. We often hike the wilderness trails and county roads but, we're excited for the close to home opportunities the trail would provide.

Kyle Bratcher
  • Fish Biologist, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife

  • Avid angler, river runner, backpacker

  • Search and Rescue Member

  • Hunting and birdwatching


Penny Arentsen, President
Joseph, OR

My interest in this trail started before I moved to Wallowa County in 2004. My husband & I lived along a biking & hiking trail (45’ out our back door) for 2 years in Wyoming & we loved it. It was a great way to meet folks in our community of all ages. We had nothing but a positive experience & the trail was a big selling point when we sold our place. If a trail had been in Wallowa County when we moved here, we would have looked for a place next to it. When this grassroots movement began in 2013, I was excited to become involved. Today I am committed to providing a safe bike route between Joseph & Enterprise, especially for the kids in our community.

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  • Co-Owner, Winding Waters River Expeditions

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

  • Community: ESD Board, Enterprise-Joseph Lions Club, Ferguson Ridge Ski Patrol

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


Dr. Emily Sheahan
Enterprise, OR  

I am on the board to support this trail because I know how valuable a trail like this can be to communities. I grew up in Loveland, Colorado and enjoyed miles of trails connecting neighborhoods as well as neighboring towns.  I enjoyed running, biking and commuting on those trails for years and I still enjoy using them when I go back to visit family. [In Wallowa County] it is difficult to find routes that are not busy with traffic and it is even more difficult to find safe routes for my kids to bike on.  As a family physician, I know it will be a valuable asset for the entire community as people of all ages will be able to use it as a safe place to walk, bike, and ride. By building a trail like this, it will help make it easier for people to become more active and combat the diseases that I try to treat every day such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and even depression.  This trail will help us become a healthier and happier community!

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  • 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.


Ron Polk, Pharm.D.
Lostine, OR

While living in Virginia my wife and I became very familiar with the Virginia Creeper Trail (www.vacreepertrail.org/), a 34 mile rail to trail in Southwest Virginia. We used this trail for bike riding, for access to prime trout fishing and for simply walking to enjoy watching the fall leaves change colors. We have seen how fellow walkers, fishermen, families and bike riders have relied on the trail for outdoor recreation and exercise. We have observed the positive benefits of the trail to local homeowners and businesses that would otherwise not likely to happen in this beautiful, but economically disadvantaged, part of Appalachia. We are eager to see the Joseph Branch Trail become a reality for many of the same reasons that the Virginia Creeper Trail has been so successful. 

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  • 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

Board Advisor


Dennis Sands, Vice President
Joseph, OR

I took up cycling in 1997 to improve my health. I participated in Cycle Oregon in 1997,1998 and 1999. The last ride was a loop from LaGrande to Ukiah, Haines, Halfway, Joseph and back to LaGrande. I had previously visited Wallowa County in 1977 and wanted to move here but after the 1999 visit I had purchased a house in Joseph in March of 2000 and never looked back. I rode my bike for several years after I moved here but gave it up due to unsafe roads. 

When I heard about the Rails to Trails project I knew I wanted to be involved to insure that cyclists of all ages would have a safe way to exercise outdoors and cycle safely. 

  • Former Mayor of Joseph, OR

  • NEOEDD Board Member

  • League of Oregon Cities Northeast Oregon Advisory Committee

  • Northeast Oregon Commission on Transportation


Ralph Swinehart, P.E.
Enterprise, OR  

I have been involved with the trail concept since ~1997 when a two county group was formed to investigate a rail to trail project. The group found the condition of the tracks to be much better than expected which led ultimately in the railroad being acquired by Wallowa and Union Counties. I am a founding member of the Friends of the Joseph Branch, which currently operates the excursion train on the line. I became involved in what is now the JBTC in its early stages. I am a strong proponent of keeping the tracks in place for an operating railroad, and for building a trail beside the tracks. As a bicyclist and hiker I certainly see the advantage of having a relatively level trail away from the traffic on the roads for safety, aesthetic, and health reasons.

  • Owner, Wallowa Mountain Engineering

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

  • Board Member, Friends of the Joseph Branch


Alyssa Cudmore
Enterprise, OR

I support the Joseph Branch Trail because I think it has the potential to provide a place, close to home, for people of all ages and abilities in our community to meet and be outside. Our current hiking, ATV, and equestrian trails do a great job of taking us to our far away mountain ranges and canyons.  But this trail will do something our existing trails don’t: an opportunity to appreciate the parts of Wallowa County closer to home – our railways, fishing holes, ranchlands, well managed forests, farmland, and our community’s citizens.  We have incredible people in Wallowa County, many of whom have lived here for generations & some just starting out. And while meeting one another in Safeway’s aisles is great – I think meeting along the JBT might be a littler nicer and spur some good conversations.                                                      

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  • Manager of a partnership that coordinates cross-boundary forest restoration projects in NE Oregon @ Wallowa Resources

  • Interests: Long walks, all things outdoors, & potlucks


Ann Bloom
Enterprise, OR

As someone involved in the nutrition and physical activity field, I’m always encouraging people to eat a balanced diet and find ways to be more physically active. Walking is one of the easiest forms of physical activity, that most people can do. I feel this project is an excellent way to provide a safe, accessible and community-focused way for people and their families to engage in physical activity on a regular basis.  It also provides a way for people to socialize and meet other people in their community who share their interests.

  • Nutrition Education Program Assistant, Oregon State University Extension

  • Interests: cooking, photography and travel.  I like to camp and hike and spend time with my family and dog.

  • Community: board member, Wallowa County Farmer’s Market and participate on the Wallowa Food Council

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Jacob Losby
Joseph, OR

I was born and raised in La Crosse, WI which has an extensive trail system similar to the one proposed. Having that access to the great outdoors was a priceless gift that I had growing up, and it gave people of all ages the chance to lead more active lives. I’ve been fortunate enough to operate a business in the Joseph since 2014 and am looking for an opportunity to give back to the community that has given me so much. One of our greatest assets is our access to the outdoors, but unfortunately not everyone has the same ability to enjoy it due to its rugged terrain. I’m an avid runner, track coach, and running ambassador who would love to see a trail built that affords Wallowa County residents, both young and old, the same opportunity I had growing up.

  • Co-Owner, Old Town Café

  • Owner, Scraggly Beard Running, Inc.

  • Interests: running, broadcasting Joseph High School Basketball on radio

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Larz Stewart
Joseph, OR

  • Development Director, Wallowa Resources

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Natalie Millar, Treasurer
Enterprise, OR

As someone who grew up enjoying all that Wallowa County has to offer, a safe bike-able, runnable, and walkable trail from Enterprise to Joseph was, and is, something that would have, and will have, a huge impact on my life and transportation choices. My interest in being part of this project started through conversations within the community and grew as I learned more about the opportunities it would provide for safer recreation and commuting options for people of all abilities and ages.

  • General Manager & CFO, Terminal Gravity Brewing

  • Interests: Backpacking, Hiking, Biking, Reading, Cooking, Skiing

  • Community: VITA/AARP Volunteer Tax Preparation through Community Connections

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Jim Zacharias
Joseph, OR

Board Advisor

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  • Owner, JZ Lumber

  • Adjacent Landowner to railroad right of way near Joseph