Rancher Chris Black

Chris Black prepares to ride his horse out to check on his cattle.

Chris Black is one of the Owyhee County ranchers who are dealing with the new realities of the Owyhee Initiative. He ranches an area off the Mud Flat road that includes both private and public land, and now new wilderness areas. Black's family has been in the cattle business in Owyhee County for over one-hundred and thirty years, and he wants to continue the tradition. As part of the compromise in the Initiative, Black will continue grazing on both his private land and also within the new Pole Creek and Owyhee River Wilderness areas.

Black appreciates the unique qualities of the Owyhee country and understands how important it is to take care of the public land that provides his livelihood. He's certainly done that because in 2008 he received the Bureau of Land Management's national stewardship award.

You talk to any rancher and they talk about stewardship and that's really one of their main concerns, that you have a place to keep running on and keep going into the future. If you don't provide good stewardship you're not going to be in business. We want to be here and we want to provide a place for people to come and enjoy. We have grand canyonlands and grand vistas. I like just getting up on a high point and looking as far as I can see. That's why I live and work out here because I just love this country.
--Chris Black, Owyhee County rancher

Chris Black on horseback, checks his cattle.

Black has been very involved throughout the Owyhee Initiative process and continues to attend regular board meetings. He's optimistic that the group will continue to find solutions to any problems encountered during the implementation of the Initiative legislation.

I think in any collaborative process where you wind up, is more toward the middle. In any situation you're not going to get everything you want and so that is where you generally tend toward. From a ranching perspective we had more to lose than most other people, or more to gain so it was a big incentive for us to try and work through the process which was a long exhausting process. …We're here to ranch, that's what we've always done and that is what we want to do through the future and to me that's what the new rancher is going to have to do. The process works because all of us really are after the same thing, when it comes down to it. We're after open space, we're after scenic values, we're after a strong economy in Idaho. We're all after the same things.
--Chris Black, Owyhee County rancher