A rancher, a logger, and economic fate in rural Idaho

In Idaho, the timber and ag industries are heavy hitters. They play big roles in the state’s history and identity. But the recession has dealt them different hands, dividing rural Idaho into winners and losers. StateImpact Idaho takes a look at two industries, two counties, and two economic fates.

Rancher Chris Black and his son, Justin, manage a thousand head of cattle on 135,000 acres in the foothills of southwest Idaho’s Owyhee Mountains. They spend most of their time miles apart – miles from anyone, in fact – working cattle. But this day is a little different. They’re walking to the corral not far from the small solar and propane-fueled house where Chris Black lives on and off from April through November.

“Are you going to catch a horse?” Chris Black asks his son. “I’ll ride Happy,” he says. They’re saddling up so they can move a group of cattle, grazing a few miles away.


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