The Trump administration announced plans to begin relocating the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) headquarters, with a number of BLM employees relocating to Grand Junction, CO, by the end of the year.
Under the plan, 225 staffers would work in Colorado, Nevada and Utah, while 75 would be posted to BLM state offices. Approximately 60 employees would remain in Washington and work on regulatory and budget issues.
Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) praised the administration’s plan, saying, “Ninety-nine percent of the land the BLM manages is west of the Mississippi River, and so should be the BLM headquarters.”
House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Rob Bishop (R-UT) made a similar statement, saying, “I’m pleased that a significant number of personnel will be coming to Utah and other Western states.”
The move was blasted by others, including former BLM Director Steve Ellis, who said the move would cause difficulty working with Capitol Hill. House Natural Resources Committee Chair Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), apparently not realizing that oil and gas industry lobbyists know the address of the main Interior Building in Washington, DC, said “Putting BLM headquarters down the road from Secretary Bernhardt’s home town just makes it easier for special interests to walk in the door demanding favors without congressional oversight or accountability. The agency will lose a lot of good people because of this move, and I suspect that’s the administration’s real goal.”
The potential move to Colorado is one of several reorganizational changes at the Department of the Interior, which has sought to restructure to better serve its stakeholders. Unfortunately, the move to reorganize has been plagued with fits and starts as Interior has undergone numerous leadership changes and is still short several Assistant Secretaries.