Mississippi commissioner apologizes to US Forest Service Supervisor

Published 8:47 am Friday, May 19, 2023

JACKSON — Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks May commission meeting was dominated by turkey season changes discussion but one moment stood out. Commissioner Leonard Bentz backtracked to a December commission meeting to address comments he made in regards to United States Forest Service safety rules and made a public apology Thursday. 

Shannon Kelardy, Mississippi Forest Supervisor, found herself on the end of an impassioned speech made by Bentz when he questioned the safety rules being implemented through an order on national forest lands. He met with here privately and apologized a few weeks ago. 

“I asked questions in the meeting and a friend of mine said ‘Leonard you sound like you were 10 grit sandpaper.’ I played it and my wife said ‘I understand how passionate you are but people who don’t know you understand it would be a little more abrasive,” Bentz said. “I called Shannon Kelardy, set up a meeting and privately apologized to her. She accepted it and we talked about some good things and our partnership with the forest service. I wanted to publicly explain that I apologized for my delivery. I’m very very passionate about things. Sometimes when you deliver things in certain ways they can be taken the wrong way. She is a professional lady and they are a great partner with us. We are talking about things which might be beneficial to the outdoorsmen in the United State Forest System. I still believe what I said but my delivery was horrible. I publicly apologize today. I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to do that.”  

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Some of those rules prohibited the open carry of shouldered firearms in a mobile vehicle, carrying a loaded firearm on an OHV and forest visitors could not have a loaded firearm within 100 yards of the centerline of any road restricted dog hunters. Bentz was frustrated with the lack of public comment in the forest service decision to make the safety order at the time.