Mark McKenzie

Mark Mackenzie.jpg

VICE CHAIRMAN

Living in the Owyhee Canyonlands forces you to wear many hats. I’m a father, rancher, community volunteer and firefighter.

I remember the night the Soda Fire started. As a longtime volunteer with the Rural Fire Protective Agency, late night phone calls for help are a part of life out here. The fire was burning 15 miles away from our ranch and it was going to take many hours for state and federal resources to respond.

Armed with a bulldozer, water trucks and many of my neighbors, we set out to tackle the wildfire. We worked into the morning to set breaks and clear potential fuel to limit the fire’s spread. Over the next three days, the fire continued to burn and came within 300 yards of our house. We did not quit until the western edge of the fire was out.

Out here we work together and rely on one another. When a stranger has a flat tire, we stop to fix it. When a fire threatens a friend’s house or public land, we respond.

I want my children and grandchildren keep that spirit of community alive. Our family has lived in the Owyhee Canyonlands for more than 100 years. My grandmother’s family, came to the Rockville area in the 1860’s by way of Texas and my grandfather’s side came from Scotland in 1910 by way of Ellis Island. Our family has always worked hard to help those around us. The life we’ve built is only possible because the people out here understand we must band together to protect our families, our businesses and the land we love.

When it comes to protecting the Owyhee Canyonlands you won’t find a better group of people more committed to ensuring the beauty of the high desert remains intact. Our families wouldn’t be living here if we didn’t love the land. If you love something, you take care of it so it will last a long time. We’ve cared for the Owyhee Canyonlands for generations and intend to continue carrying on that legacy.

However, our work may come to a screeching halt if the President declares a monument in the Canyonlands. Instead of helping fight the fires, we’d be forced to watch them spread until outside resources could make it to this remote part of the state. We don’t want to see this happen. We hope lawmakers will listen to the people who know the land best and let us continue to help our neighbors and take care of the Canyonlands.