Cattlemen welcome new BLM director
K. Lynn Bennett officially takes over as the new Idaho BLM director on Dec. 1, but he was on hand this week to address members of the Idaho Cattle Association during their annual meeting.
“I really look forward to the challenge, and I come here to make a difference,” he told ICA members.
Bennett said he will place an emphasis on getting BLM managers out in the field and meeting face-to-face with Idaho ranchers.
Any “bunker mentality” within the BLM ranks, with managers lobbing paper decisions from behind desks, will be gone on his watch, Bennett pledged.
“We’re going to meet with you. I want our managers to get out on the ground and meet with you,” he told ICA members. “There has got to be a point where face-to-face is the norm.”
During a brief question-and-answer period, one producer urged Bennett to “leave your guns at home” when dealing with ranchers out in the field.
“I agree with that,” Bennett said. “I don’t think we always need a law enforcement presence.”
Bennett served 32 years with the BLM before retiring in 1993. His BLM career has included management posts at the Burley and Shoshone districts in Idaho.
Most recently Bennett has been ranching near King Hill, Idaho, but was lured out of retirement to take the state director job, in part because he was supported by cattle producers.
“Right from the get-go we felt that bringing K. Lynn Bennett back into the system would be a great thing to do,” said ICA President Dave Nelson.
Bennett and four other newly appointed state BLM directors met recently with national BLM Director Kathleen Clarke in California.
Bennett said his approach to the job will be in harmony with the Bush administration, favoring a common sense approach to public lands issues and a multiple use philosophy.
He has been encouraged recently to hear some of the positive aspects about livestock grazing, Bennett said. People are beginning to wake up to the fact that grazing can be used as a management tool to control wildfires and the spread of weeds, he added.
“I’m also beginning to hear about the value of grazing to maintain open spaces,” Bennett said. “The way to do that is to keep producers on the ground.”
Bennett said he would like to stay on as state BLM director as long as he can make a difference. “If I can’t make a difference, I’ll go back to doing something else,” he said.
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