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Donna McDonald on Family, Heart, Soul, and Connection

Where do you live?

I live in the Upper Ruby Valley. My family homesteaded here in 1910. One hundred and fourteen years later, four of the five generations currently live on the ranch. 

What is your profession?

Our Grandparents were cattle and sheep ranchers. Unfortunately, when our grandfather passed away, much of the ranch was sold. To remain on the land and in the Ruby Valley, we shifted our income source to the outfitting industry, which offers hunting, fishing, and outdoor experiences. Our ranch is permitted for recreational use on Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and State Lands.  One new addition to our operation is our Equine Facilitated Wellness Center, which offers a therapeutic retreat that combines mountain therapy, equine interaction, and guided mental health care,


Upper Canyon Outfitters operates from May through December and offers specialty winter trips. Our cabins, lodge, and conference center can accommodate 30 guests or more.


Our clientele includes guests from all over the United States and even overseas, with a growing number of local participants.


Ranching and grazing are an integral part of our operation. There has been tremendous change over the last 100 years. We prioritize educating our guests to understand the past and the importance of conserving this history. Our guests leave understanding the value of partnerships with the community and the Forest Service.  

"We prioritize educating our guests to understand the past and the importance of conserving this history."

What do you do for fun?

I like to go somewhere warm when it's cold, but I love the winter. It’s so quiet and peaceful in the Upper Ruby Valley.


I like to be outdoors and enjoy nature. You can also find me hunting, fishing, and riding horses.  My love of the land has made it exciting for me to share these experiences with others.

How would you describe your relationship with Ruby Valley or the surrounding area?

Family, Heart, Soul, and Connection.

Why are you a member of the RVSA?

I’m a member of the RVSA, and I represent recreational permitted use. This group isn’t afraid to take on challenging topics and work with others. Everybody is open-minded and cares about the land.


We are real people working toward common-sense solutions. This is what drew me to the group.

What about the vision and goals of the RVSA most resonates with you?

The RVSA works with the land management agencies on public lands to enhance their The group's diversity is important. There are different conservation groups, ranchers, and engaged community members who ensure there will be something for future generations.

"We are real people working toward common-sense solutions."

What do you see as some of your key accomplishments?

Communication and collaboration within this group is a big win. The leadership is impressive because the vision isn’t only for the Ruby Valley; it extends to the whole country.


We understand each other’s points of view and work on challenging topics.


There is always respect, courage, and the ability to listen to each other despite different opinions.

What do you look forward to working with this group?

I look forward to the comradery and common sense within the group. We will dive into the bigger issues, like predators, permitting, and increasing demand for the use of resources.


I appreciate that getting it right is more important than being right. We are all open to listening so that we can get it right.

"We are building a legacy to preserve our heritage for future generations."

What do you think others could learn from the RVSA?

It’s essential to show up and be accountable consistently. Listen to others to better understand where they’re coming from and what they care about. Groups can foster creative thinking and problem-solving.


And to always be honest and respectful. This supports the “getting it right” solutions.

What do you want people to be sure people know about the RVSA?

We are all there to do the right thing. We are building a legacy to preserve our heritage for future generations.

What have you been surprised by in your work with the RVSA?

I’m surprised all of the members are able to make the time to make this a priority. So I’m surprised by how well everyone respects each other, listens, and shows up authentically. This is unique because no ego gets in the way of reaching our goals.

What is your hope for the future of the Ruby Valley?

I hope this place stays special and keeps its magic. It’s mystical and magical here. You cannot hold onto it, but you can feel it.

What is your personal theme song and/or theme song?

If I Could Turn Back Time, by Cher

It’s not that I want to turn back time to change my life.  I feel like it's never too late to learn and grow.  While we can't turn back time, we can certainly make the most of the present moment and continue to pursue our passions. And I just think Cher “rocks”.

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