Picabo's Bud Purdy keeps setting an example for Idaho ranchers

In the middle of a Steve Stuebner profile , one of Idaho’s most beloved ranchers, Bud Purdy, explains in one paragraph the joy of ranching.

“Every morning, you get up and do something different,” Purdy tells writer, producer and author Stuebner. “You turn out on the range and ride a horse every day. Even now, I go out and make sure the water is OK, check the fences and make sure the gates are closed.

“It's just a constant going out there and doing it,” Purdy said. “I was never a cowboy, but I've ridden a million miles.”

Purdy, 94, is one of the rare Idaho ranchers respected for his skills raising livestock, his business acumen and for his environmental values. His shift to rest-rotation grazing on public grazing lands and other innovations became a model for the industry that improved the quality of the land and productivity of the beef.

His private conservation values led him to donate a 3,500-acre conservation easement on all of the ranch along Silver Creek in the 1990s. This priceless contribution to the Nature Conservancy helps it to protect its own Silver Creek Preserve, a place visited and loved by tens of thousands of anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

Purdy didn't even take the tax break on the easement valued at $7 million.

I remember when Bud joined Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt in Laidlaw Park, a lush sagebrush rangeland next to Crater of the Moon National Monument in 2000. Purdy and the other ranchers had been such good stewards to the land that Babbitt wanted to convince President Bill Clinton to expand the national monument to include the area.

Purdy told me later he was skeptical of Babbitt’s intentions and wanted to be sure that grazing would continue in the new monument. But the former president of the Idaho Cattle Association didn’t fight it and Clinton expanded the monument just before he left office.

The Pioneers landscape where he and his family, and now his son Nick ranch, remains one of Idaho’s most intact ecosystems.

Purdy duck hunted and skied with Ernest Hemingway, hosted Jimmy Stewart and Gary Cooper at his Picabo Ranch, and climbed 12,009-foot Hyndman Peak in the Pioneers while camping out with sheepherders, Stuebner tells in his profile.

Purdy also was a founder of the Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission, which seeks to educate Idahoans about the importance of rangelands and the ranchers who lives remain tied to them. Purdy also was chairman of the University of Idaho Foundation, and chairman of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry.

The Commission funds Stuebner’s writing and video about Purdy. The former Idaho Statesman environmental writer is an Idaho institution himself and you can see his own respect for Purdy in his presentation.

With all of the stories about conflicts over sage grouse, wolves and water quality, and the economic challenges facing many traditional public lands ranchers, the Purdy history offers optimism. Ranchers like Purdy are the best ambassadors for a lifestyle and culture Idaho and the West hope to preserve.

“Once you get started in it, and get in it, you're hooked,” Purdy said.

Yep, them doggone ranchers

just ruin everything for everyone. Collect their ranching welfare checks and tax breaks and never do anything in return. (Thought I'd get that said to save time for all those anti-agriculture folks who'll soon be chiming in.) Kinda ironic in Idaho that some of the oldest ranchers are some of the most innovative and progressive. I tip my hat to you, Bud, and all the other ranchers that do their part to keep from damaging the environment while helping to feed the people, many of whom complain about those same farmers and ranchers ....Sunny...

Ya know Sunny...I don't see it as 'anti-ranching' as much as

anti-hypocrisy; at least for me anyway. I've always found it odd that a segment of the population that depends on use of public land, gov't price supports, or tax advantages not available to everyone (especially in Idaho) complains the loudest and appears to be so anti-gov't in the first place. I know it doesn't apply to all, (my family was 3 generations of ranchers and never used public land; but they did use REA power for all the irrigation and wells), but it just seems that a more realistic view is in order.

"No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government." Neil Peart

Sunny, you make such a blanket statement.

The truth is never this simple and Purdy himself never claims it is this simple. He thinks outside the box, while many other ranchers do not. Purdy also doesn't denigrate others for speaking their minds and offering up different solutions. He respects people who take action. His neighbors are just as innovative and even more wealthy. We can all learn from those who put up, instead of denigrating and staking party lines.

What is sad is that more ranchers and land owners do not have the same commitment and do not set the same example Purdy does.

ooh where to start.

Here's the easy one boys and girls:
It's CraterS of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.

4th grade Idaho Geography.

I thought it was going to be an OBITUARY


"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

It is my identity and my philosophy

Would you prefer everyone to be called 'Poster'?


Way to be Bud. Humble yet exemplifies leadership.


Where are all ranch haters?

Where are the people talking about the subsidies K-K and Picabo Livestock Co have taken?

Bud is exemplary, but for every rancher like him,

there are others who will pump their rivers dry, overgraze their own property and adjacent public lands, trash riparian corridors, and cry 'foul' when challenged about these practices or asked to improve them.

Sure could use more ranchers like the Purdy's - to keep healthy ranching alive and well in Idaho.


So you are saying they are okay- even though they take federal subsidies?

Subsidies by default must not be the label of evil.

We can add Lava Lakes Sheep subsidies to that list too- for their 'natural' lamb meat.

Oh god

If they're all so evil they'd have hung you by now.


"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

It is my identity and my philosophy

Would you prefer everyone to be called 'Poster'?