County Commissioner Varlin Higbee of Alamo and a representative to the Nevada Association of Counties reported he attended the annual meeting of NACO in Winnemucca in early October. He heard that under the current administration and acting national BLM director Michael Need, “the attitude of the BLM is changing a lot.”

He said, “They want to change their perception and work with the ranchers and natural resource users to make it better, instead of beating us to death like has been done in the last several years.”

Kathy Benedetto from the BLM headquarters in Washington D.C., BLM advisor to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, was a guest speaker at the meeting. Higbee said, “She even visited with a lot of us saying she wants to try to change it.”

He said Benedetto also noted, “that the people who are on the land have been on the land [and] are the ones who know how to do it best.”

Higbee said he felt very encouraged for the future of the BLM policies in the rural areas. “They want to start listening, be more user-friendly to us, instead of sending a bunch of college-educated idiots from the East Coast to tell us what we already know.”

He said Lincoln County is based heavily on natural resources and “we do know how to better manage things. That’s what drives us.”

In the past number of years, Higbee said, “The BLM has acted from Washington down instead of from the ground level up, and we sometimes get a policy from Washington that is so asinine it doesn’t even make sense. Yet our local BLM agencies and local district offices are having to implement crazy mandated rules, regulations, and policies on the land. It’s not their fault. They sometimes feel their hands are tied themselves. They might be given an agenda out of Washington they are required to try to enforce that doesn’t fit with what’s actually on the land.”

He said Benedetto also “talked to us about more oil and gas leases, allowing more developments to happen out on the land to improve it, cutting through some of the existing NEPA and FEMA regulations, and also having Congress better deal with the wild horse issue.”