Andy Kerr

Conservationist, Writer, Analyst, Operative, Agitator, Strategist, Tactitian, Schmoozer, Raconteur

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The Lord Flat Unit of the proposed Hells Canyon Wilderness Additions. Photo by Ellen Morris Bishop ( From my book Oregon Wild: Endangered Forest Wilderness (Timber Press 2004):

By Oregon standards, the Lord Flat Unit is huge. It extends from the Imnaha River on the west to Summit Ridge (the west rim of Hells Canyon) on the east, from Hat Point on the south and to the Dug Bar “road” on the north. Lord Flat is a large plateau that declines gently at first and then precipitously for over a mile in elevation. The unit features Columbia River basalt (dramatically incised by deep canyons), lush meadows, knife-edged ridges, rimrock canyons, forested benches, old-growth ponderosa pine forests, marshes, rock outcroppings and grassland slopes.

Cow, Horse and Lightning Creeks, and their tributaries, are awesome spectacles, dissecting the upland plateau and providing habitat for endangered spring and summer chinook salmon. Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, marten and peregrine falcon are a few of the rare species found in the unit. Rocky Mountain elk, mule deer and cougar are some of the area’s other charismatic megafauna.

More than 100 miles of trails are available for horse and foot travel. The Western Rim National Recreation Trail follows Summit Ridge for over 30 miles. The Nee Mee Poo National Historic Trail is part of the route taken by Chief Joseph when he attempted to lead 400 of his people from the Wallowa Valley to Canada to escape the U.S. Army in 1877. After crossing the Snake River in spring flood (with horses, livestock, women, children and elders), fleeing 1,800 miles and engaging in 25 battles and skirmishes with up to 2,000 Army troops, the Nez Perce were finally captured within a mere 30 miles of the Canadian border in Montana.