Rancher, conservationist Bud Purdy dies at 96

Carol Ryan Dumas

Capital Press

Rancher and conservationist Bud Purdy, 96, died at his ranch on Silver Creek west of Picabo, Idaho, on Monday. Purdy was highly regarded as an early adopter and promoter of rangeland stewardship and rest rotation grazing.

Leonard N. “Bud” Purdy, a widely respected rancher and conservationist, died Monday, April 14, at his home on Silver Creek near Picabo, Idaho.

Purdy wore many hats in his lifetime, serving in numerous leadership roles that spanned agriculture, land management, commerce, education and health care. But the one he loved most was a cowboy hat.

He was widely respected for his honesty, fairness, intelligence, generosity and proactive approach both on and off the range. He was highly regarded in the ranching, land-management and wildlife communities for being a progressive thinker and an early adopter when it came to rangeland stewardship and rest rotation grazing.

“Bud Purdy was the very embodiment of the Code of the West — someone whose life was a lesson in cowboy ethics, common sense, stewardship and the value of hard work and perseverance,” Idaho Gov. Butch Otter said in a written statement. “I don’t know whether Bud was a religious man, but there was nobody with as much faith in his fellow man.

“His passing is a loss for all of us, but it’s an even bigger loss for the next generation who won’t have the benefit of his wisdom and goodwill,” Otter stated.

The Idaho Cattle Association issued a statement on Friday, saying, “The beef community lost a true cattleman this week. Those of us who were privileged to know Bud Purdy are better for it. He was and will continue to be a great example of leadership, innovation, integrity and stewardship.

“The world would be a much better place if we were all a little more like Bud. Bud was an integral figure in the cattle industry, serving as president of the Idaho Cattle Association and founding the Idaho Cattle Foundation. He will be missed. We will face our horses to the east this week as we celebrate Bud’s life and legacy.”

Purdy was effective in finding resolution between ranchers and land and wildlife agencies, said Ken Sanders, a semi-retired range professor at the University of Idaho, in a 2012 interview with Capital Press.

“He was so highly respected, people listened when he talked. He affected land management in a positive way beyond his own land and allotments,” Sanders said.

“Bud was way ahead of us professors in animal husbandry and range. He’s gotten about every award there is for stewardship,” Sanders said in the interview.

Purdy served several years as chairman of the Idaho Rangeland Committee, which worked with government agencies to resolve conflicts between livestock and wildlife, and was a founding member of the Idaho Rangeland Commission.

He was inducted into the Southern Idaho Livestock Hall of Fame in 1978 and later served many years on its board of directors.

In the 1990s, Purdy and his son, Nick, donated a 3,500-acre conservation easement to the Nature Conservancy to preserve the land on both sides of Silver Creek, a world-class fishing stream.

In addition to his rangeland leadership, Purdy was instrumental in the establishment of the Idaho Cattle Association, served on the National Bureau of Land Management Advisory Council, was vice president of the University of Idaho Foundation, president of the College of Southern Idaho Foundation, chairman of the Blaine County Medical Center and instrumental in helping raise funds for the new St. Luke’s Hospital, and chairman of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry when it was founded.

Burial will be in a private ceremony. A celebration of his life will be held at 3 p.m., Sunday, May 4, in the Limelight Room of the Challenger Inn at Sun Valley. Friends are invited to leave a message of condolence, share a story or photo or a light candle at www.woodriverchapel.com.

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