The headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management will be divided between Grand Junction and DC
The headquarters of the US Bureau of Land Management will no longer be entirely based in Grand Junction, US Home Secretary Deb Haaland said on Friday.
The office, which moved the national headquarters to western Colorado under former President Donald Trump in 2019, will instead have its national headquarters in Washington DC, but will retain a western seat in Colorado, Haaland said in a statement from hurry.
âIt is imperative that the office has the proper structure and resources to serve the American public,â Haaland said. âThere is no question that the BLM should have a leadership presence in Washington, DC – like all other land management agencies – to ensure it has access to the political, budgetary and decision-making levers to carry out his mission .
âIn addition, BLM’s strong presence in Colorado and the West will continue to grow. “
The office manages more than 245 million acres across the United States, the majority of which is in the West. The agency also manages livestock grazing and determines whether to allow power transmission and pipeline projects across these lands.
The Home Office said on Friday that the change “will improve the function of the office, help clarify the more than 7,000 BLM employees across the country, maintain and increase access for stakeholders, and enable the office to better serve the American public and fulfill its mission as steward of nearly one-fifth of the nation’s public lands.
Trump’s change has been welcomed by many on the Western slope as well as by US GOP Senator Cory Gardner. But more than 87% of affected employees quit or retired instead of moving to Colorado, The Washington Post reported.
The previous decision also did not lead to the promised 27 to 40 jobs: only three BLM employees are based in the agency’s leased offices in Grand Junction, said Christian Reece, executive director of Club 20, an organization that defends the interests of western Colorado.
Haaland, who visited Grand Junction headquarters in July, said Friday that âthe past few years have been incredibly disruptive for the organization, for our officials and their families. As we move forward, my priority is to re-energize and rebuild the BLM so that it can meet the pressing challenges of our time, and to ensure the well-being of our people.
US Representative Lauren Boebert, who represents western Colorado, has brought charges against the senses. John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet, claiming they were “falling back and had not defended Colorado” and feared the “new promises (President Joe Biden) made them (will) materialize.”
But the Colorado congressional delegation, including Hickenlooper, U.S. Democratic Representative Joe Neguse and GOP Boebert, had urged Haaland to keep the office seat in Grand Junction. Western Slope executives in Grand Junction had also hoped to retain the national headquarters.
âWe’ve spent a lot of time advocating for that seat to be here in Grand Junction,â said Christian Reece, manager of the Western Colorado 20 Club group, who met Haaland during his visit. âWe believe that it is always essential to have decision-makers at the highest level close to the people who actually use these lands. It hasn’t changed.
The move “comes as no surprise,” said Reece, and members of the 20 Club are “delighted to retain a head office out west in Grand Junction.” Work is now starting to ensure that this western headquarters is fully staffed with senior management and is fully functional. “
The Mountain Pact advocacy group that works with locally elected officials on climate and public land issues hailed Haaland’s decision as a smart compromise. âWe have seen so many skilled and senior leaders leave the BLM during the Trump administration due to the forced and ill-advised move to Grand Junction,â said group director Anna Peterson. âThe return of the head office to DC will allow staff to collaborate and more effectively manage our nation’s public lands with proper oversight. “
Boebert, however, stressed that the “rushed decision is not to help Western communities” but rather a “partisan attack on rural communities”.
The director of the BLM – Biden’s candidate for the post, Tracy Stone-Manning, has yet to be confirmed – and more senior positions will be defined in DC. some of the more than 95 percent of BLM employees who are already located outside of Washington, DC â
After hearing the news of the about-face, Hickenlooper, who won the Gardner seat, said the Grand Junction headquarters must “be a strong, ongoing presence that engages the community and adds Western perspective and value to the mission of the BLM “.
âA Western BLM headquarters in Colorado will help ensure that we have a fully functioning agency that understands the West,â said Hickenlooper. âWe will continue to work to secure jobs at Grand Junction, including leadership positions. “
Bennet said he was disappointed to see the national headquarters return to Washington, but that “the establishment and development of a permanent BLM Western headquarters in Grand Junction should be a very positive development.”
Boebert also expressed concern that the Home Office did not provide many details on the impending siege split.
“From my first days in Congress, I did all I could to keep the office seat in Grand Junction,” Boebert said, adding that “this could still be a victory for Grand Junction and the West. , because the west headquarters will remain in Grand Junction, more jobs will move to Grand Junction, and all jobs that have moved west will not be returned to DC â