In a major geographic shift, the United States Bureau of Land Management will relocate its headquarters out of the nation’s capital to Grand Junction, Colorado.
Grand Junction’s 62,000 residents will soon be welcoming 80 more people to their ranks. That’s because today, Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., announced the Bureau of Land Management will relocate its headquarters and roughly one-fifth of its Washington, D.C. staff out of its Capitol Hill home.
“Today is a historic day for our nation’s public lands, western states, and the people of Colorado,” Sen. Gardner said in a press release. “Relocating the Bureau of Land Management to the Western Slope of Colorado will bring the bureau’s decision-makers closer to the people they serve and the public lands they manage. The problem with Washington is too many policymakers are far removed from the people they are there to serve. ”
I am thrilled to announce the @BLMNational headquarters is coming to Grand Junction! Today is a historic day for our nation’s public lands, western states, and the people of Colorado. pic.twitter.com/e8ErI85Ftr
— Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) July 15, 2019
Sen. Gardner went on to say the move benefits local communities, public lands advocates, and “proponents for a more responsible and accountable federal government.”
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis confirmed to Fox 31 that around 80 jobs would move to Grand Junction as part of the relocation.
Neither Sen. Gardner nor the BLM confirmed when the move would occur, but a source speaking on the condition of anonymity told E&E News that senior staff would have to relocate by Oct. 1, which is the beginning of the 2020 fiscal year. Sen. Gardner first introduced the idea of moving the BLM out west in 2016 at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources hearing.
BLM to Relocate Headquarters to Colorado
While the move undoubtedly adds attention and prominence to the Mesa County town near Colorado’s western border, it may also ruffle some feathers in Washington.
“Can you imagine having a house in the D.C. area with kids in school and getting notice on July 16 that you have to report to your job 2,000 miles away by Oct. 1?” a source familiar with the move told E&E.
What’s more, the move represents part of a larger push to shrink the federal government by the Trump administration. A push that already threatens to furlough 150 federal employees, according to the Washington Post.
Prior to his confirmation as Interior Secretary, then Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt pledged in April of last year the BLM’s headquarters would move out of Washington. But coming into today’s announcement, many officials in Washington still did not have details on the move.
“The Interior Department has sent us no information on any potential BLM relocation,” Adam Servana, communications director with the House Natural Resources Committee Democratic Staff, told E&E in a story that published today.
Ed Shepard, president of the Public Lands Foundation — an advocacy organization open to current, former, and retired BLM employees — echoed Servana’s uncertainty.
“PLF continues to have concerns with the move,” he said. “There has been very little communication on what positions and how many will be moved. We do not know how this will improve service to the public.”
GearJunkie will monitor this story as it develops.