Bureau of Land Management to keep large Colorado office as HQ moves back to DC
[Denver Post] Returning to the seats/whims of power rather than serving the areas of the people
Trump administration ordered the agency that manages federal land to Colorado in 2019

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will no longer be based entirely out of Grand Junction, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced Friday.

Instead, the agency headquarters will return to Washington, D.C., where it had been before a 2019 decision by former President Donald Trump, though BLM said it will maintain and expand its presence in western Colorado.

"It is imperative that the bureau have the appropriate structure and resources to serve the American public," Haaland said in a news release. "There’s no doubt that the BLM should have a leadership presence in Washington, D.C. — like all the other land management agencies — to ensure that it has access to the policy-, budget-, and decision-making levers to best carry out its mission.

"In addition, the BLM’s robust presence in Colorado and across the West will continue to grow."

Colorado politicians and Western Slope leaders who had lobbied to keep the headquarters here expressed mild disappointment on Friday, but also said they were pleased BLM will retain a presence in a state where about 36% is federally managed land.

The Interior Department said the move was to "improve the function of the bureau, help provide clarity for the BLM’s more than 7,000 employees across the country, maintain and increase access for stakeholders, and enable the bureau to better serve the American public and fulfill its mission as the steward of nearly one-fifth of the nation’s public lands."

The BLM director — Biden’s nominee for the job, Tracy Stone-Manning, has not yet been confirmed — and other leadership positions will be set in D.C. Other "senior personnel" will be based in Grand Junction, the Interior Department’s release said, "as part of the more than 95 percent of BLM employees that are already located outside of Washington, D.C."

Trump’s decision to shift BLM headquarters to Colorado in 2019, which came at the same time as the decision to move two U.S. Department of Agriculture research agencies to Kansas City, Missouri, was welcomed by many on the Western Slope and then-GOP U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner.

But more than 87% of the affected employees either resigned or retired instead of moving to Colorado, The Washington Post reported. And it didn’t lead to the promised 27 to 40 jobs; only three BLM employees are currently based at the agency’s leased offices in Grand Junction, said Christian Reece, the executive director of Club 20, an organization that advocates for western Colorado interests.
Posted by: Frank G 2021-09-18