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Meet Our Board
Jeffrey Kee

Jeffrey Kee, Board Chair, is a fourth generation Oregonian dedicated to conservation.  Being a descendant of Eastrern Oregon ranchers, loggers and teachers he brings a broad perspective of views to the OPLI Board.  He is dedicated to building community capacity and has held leadership roles in numerous charitable and watershed restoration organizations.


Jeffrey’s family has two ranches in Grant County that are used for livestock grazing and recreation. He is currently managing both properties and implementing over 200 acres of restoration work.

Jeffrey’s grandfather took him steelhead fishing many times on the John Day River while he was growing up.  These trips fueled the intense appreciation of an undammed river with a self sustaining population of steelhead and Chinook framed by impressive landscapes.


Jeffrey is a registered Professional Land Surveyor and Water Rights Examiner in Oregon.  He was the last employee hired by the Oregon Water Trust which was a national leader in developing watershed health agreements that benefitted ranchers, farmers, the public and wildlife.  He currently offers conservation planning services through Pacific Resource Management LLC.


Writing, art and photography are important parts of Jeffrey’s life. You can see some of his work at


Jeffrey is dedicated to working with a strong team to support the OPLI center in Fossil, encourage visitation to the John Day Basin and build local community capacity.  

Bonnie Lofton

Bonnie Lofton is a retired public school instructor with a long standing interest in natural history.  She resides in the south end of Wheeler County west of Mitchell Oregon and along the edge of the Ochoco National Forest.


She has served on several local non-profit boards since arriving in Eastern Oregon in 2000, as well as Chair of the Wheeler County Commission for Children and Families.

She was instrumental in gaining an additional loop to the Journey Through Time Scenic Byway designation in 2012 connecting the Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds.

Bonnie and husband Steve built a log home off the grid and continue to be active in efforts to preserve and conserve natural resources.

Her many interests include on line networking, photography, hiking, preserving and maintaining Oregon’s Pioneer Cemeteries as well as writing news features for local news outlets.  Currently, she is a Volunteer during the summer for the OPLI Field Center in Fossil and Secretary to the Board.

Richard Ross

Richard Ross has explored Oregon's amazing and diverse landscapes for four decades, with family on both sides of the Cascades.  Since 1995, Richard and his wife Barb have been part time residents of the John Day River Canyon near Service Creek. They manage a small ranch there for habitat conservation, range improvement, and riparian restoration along one mile of a seasonal creek.

Richard joined the Oregon Paleo Lands Institute Board in 2002 to help create the Oregon Paleo Lands Center in Fossil. He has helped lead other non-profit groups to create Tryon Creek State Park, to restore the Historic Columbia River Highway, and to save and replace endangered American Elms in Portland. 


In the '70s, Richard taught Oregon history and environmental studies in Portland, using the Cascades and high desert as classrooms. For three decades since, he has been an urban and regional planner.  He led Gresham’s transportation and community planning for 22 years, including plans for light rail station areas, urban renewal, and the Springwater Corridor trail. His related interests include Oregon’s natural and cultural history, especially Eastern Oregon.


Richard is committed to OPLI’s Mission, to see that the Oregon Paleo Lands Center is a strong regional hub for education and travel, which supports and connects the gateway communities of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.


Steve Lundgren

The Oregon Paleo Lands Institute welcomed new board member Steve Lundgren to its board of directors January 14, 2021.

Lundgren, 56, of Redmond, will work with fellow board members and staff to secure stable funding for the institute’s center and programs. He also hopes to help maintain and improve contacts within the local community as well as with the various governmental and educational agencies with a stake in the basin.

“I’m honored to join the institute,” Lundgren said. “I’m fascinated by the paleo lands area and the John Day Basin in general.”

Lundgren has been an investigator for Oregon state-owned SAIF Corporation for 18 years. Before that he worked as a journalist for 15 years, which included stints with The Observer in La Grande, The Bulletin in Bend and The Oregonian.

He has lived most of his life in Oregon and has been in Central and Eastern Oregon for more than 30 years. He is married and three kids, ages 14, 17 and 19. In his free time, Lundgren is an avid angler, hunter, hiker and boater.


Carol Maciness

We are pleased to announce we have added a local resident interested in helping the Visitor’s Center grow their operations. Carol Maciness, the former Mayor of Fossil, joined our Board this year and agreed to take on the Treasurer’s  responsibilities.

Bio coming soon! 

Emily Smitherman

Emily is our Digital Outreach Specialist. She joined the OPLI team as an Office Assistant in 2014 advancing to Office Coordinator shortly after and took the position of Digital Outreach Specialist in 2023. 

She a degree in Natural Science with an Emphasis in Geology. Science has always been her passion. Astronomy and Geology are her favorites. 

She is a published author and illustrator and has experience teaching. 

Oregon Paleo Lands  
Institute Center

2024 Summer Hours

Thursday - Sunday 


*we will be closed

one hour for lunch

Want to Volunteer?

The Paleo Lands Center invites you, to meet the public and school groups at our educational hub of the John Day Basin. Volunteers can serve as Board Members, Advisors, Center helpers and docents and help share exciting natural history exhibits, brochures, and books with visitors and schools.
Please Contact the Center at

541-763-4480 or for details


Road and Weather Conditions


*Please call or email if you would like to schedule your school group for a visit during the week. Thank you!


Contact Information

333 West Fourth Street

Post Office Box 104

Fossil, OR 97830
Phone: (541) 763-4480




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