By Steve Stuebner
Writer and Producer
Life on the Range
In the spring, local ranchers graze cattle along the South Fork of the Boise River, while early-bird anglers fish and float for trout.
“Cattle grazing is one of our multiple use activities on the Boise NF. It’s kind of an awesome mix between what people do for fun, what people do for a living. And it’s kind of what makes the West unique,” says Brody Duggan, range management specialist for the Boise National Forest.
The South Fork of the Boise River is also a popular blue-ribbon trout fishery.
“The South Fork is a great resource, the fishery up here is unbelievable, the chukar hunting in this canyon is great, and the camping is unbelievable,” says Michael Gibson, Idaho field representative for Trout Unlimited. “It’s a really remote experience that’s less than an hour away from the Treasure Valley.”
Rancher Clay Davison says his cattle graze along the section of the South Fork, where people camp and fish next to the Forest Service road, during the month of May. This is a time when they should expect to see cattle.
“In the early 90s, my family, the Forest Service, and fishing groups got together to talk about when it would be best to have cows in here,” Davison says. “Came up with the idea that from the 1st of May until the Friday before Memorial Day, our cows would graze on this side of the canyon. After Memorial Day, we drive our cows to other pastures.
“So most of the summer would be cattle-free for most of the fishing access areas on the South Fork here.”
“When you come up here fishing and floating, you need to understand this is multiple use Forest Service land,” Gibson says. “Most of the grazing occurs before the heavy float season. If you’re here in spring, you’re going to see cattle by the river, it’s working land.”