BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) -- The top Bureau of Land Management official for Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota has retired.

Gene Terland of Columbus had been the agency's state director since 2006. He will be replaced by Howard Lemm, the associate state director, until a permanent replacement is selected.

The Billings-based position oversees oil and gas, livestock grazing, recreation and other activities on 8.3 million acres of land in the three states and 47 million acres of underground minerals.

A Montana native and Montana State University graduate, Terland was with the BLM for 36 years, including stints in Oregon, Idaho, Alaska and Utah. He began as a range technician and worked his way up to the top field position in the agency.

Copyright 2010 The AP.

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