ICA president's family has ranched rugged Idaho County since 1870s


By Steve Stuebner, Life on the Range, Intermountain Farm & Ranch

Post Register (ID) - Nov 25, 2019


At the top of Cold Springs summit, nearly 7,000 feet above sea level, Lucile rancher Marty Gill gets a charge out of the big view.


“From right here, you can see parts of four states and some huge country,” says Marty Gill, who grew up on the Gill Ranch in Lucile, a few miles north of the Time Zone bridge in Riggins.


It’s an awe-inspiring spot on this high divide between Hells Canyon and the Salmon River, north of Riggins, where generations of the Gill family have raised cattle for more than 100 years.


The Gill family has deep roots. They are the longest continuous white residents of Idaho County, going back to the 1870s.


Here, in a place that feels like the top of the world, Marty Gill is standing on the pinnacle of Idaho’s livestock industry as the board president of the Idaho Cattle Association.


“It’s been a heck of a ride,” Gills says. “We had a record turnout at our mid-year meeting in Lewiston. We had a great trail ride with Governor Little. We had Vicki Christianson, the chief of the Forest Service on site in Owyhee County for 1.5 days, which is really cool. Idaho is getting a lot of input on a national level.”


“I think there are some things that are moving in the right direction for long-term resource management for everybody,” Gill continues. “The lock it up, and leave it alone, let it burn model of the last 20 years, I don’t think is a long-term sustainable deal.”


Since the 1940s, the Gill Ranch has operated on a big patch of private land above the Salmon River in Lucile, and on a large grazing allotment that runs over the mountain into the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.


This is mighty steep country! The Gills joke that their cattle are equipped with special built-in low-range 4-wheel-drive, or they’d fall off the mountain.


“We’ve lost a couple of different bulls that fell out of the pasture right into the river,” says Melvin Gill, Marty’s dad. “You look at the pasture and yeah I can see why.”


The Gill family is well known locally because of their deep roots...