I’m a Southern Idaho boy. I grew up moving sprinkler pipe, hauling hay, riding horses, chasing chickens, homing pigeons, and raising a 4-H beef cow. I was taught how to drive a stick-shift pickup in a hay field and how to back a trailer on a dirt road. I fell in love with the Bear River by exploring the bottoms where I learned to hunt, fish, and trap. I learned to pronounce ‘creek’, ‘crick’ and exclaim astonishment by saying, ‘oh my heck!’ I grew up where anyone who rode the same school bus was considered a neighbor, and for the Johnson boys that meant neighbors were about 20 miles away, up toward Cottonwood.

When I moved to the Denver Metro Area a few years ago, I rediscovered what I missed most about home and what it means to be from Southern Idaho. It means family and the closest friends. It means the sound you can feel of a drumming ruffed grouse in the spring, the smell of curing hay in the summer, and red and orange mountain maple painting hillsides in the fall. It means cold winter morning hikes up a steep snowy mountain ridge to get a few turns in before work. It means easy access to public lands and crystal clear mountain streams. It means farmers driving tractors on a highway and ranchers pushing cows across a road.  It means landowners who still give permission to hunt on their land if you knock on their door and ask them. It means wide open space and dirt roads. It means driving miles of backroads without seeing a soul and if you do, they wave.

It feels good to be home.

By: Matt Lucia, Executive Director, Sagebrush Steppe Land Trust