WASHINGTON - A little-known official has just completed a stormy tenure as the federal government's biggest landlord.
Many users of the public lands were pleased with the performance of Robert F. Burford, a laconic Colorado rancher and mining engineer, who resigned last week after more than eight years of managing the public range as director of the Bureau of Land Management.
``We think he did a great job,'' said Patty McDonald, executive director of the Public Lands Council, which represents 27,000 cattle and sheep ranchers.
``We are sorry to see him go. We think he did a lot of good things for livestock raisers and for the nation as a whole.''
But others, including conservationists and members of Congress who oversee the administration of federal lands, said they hope they have seen the last of Burford, who was brought to town by President Reagan's first interior secretary, James G. Watt.
``My message is, `Goodbye, good riddance, don't come back,' '' said Rep. Mike Synar, D-Okla., chairman of the House Government Operations Committee's Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee.
The harsh criticism matched some of the emotions generated by Burford's wife, Anne M. Burford, during her tenure as Reagan's first administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. …