The Headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management is transitioning back to Washington D.C. after two years of having its office in Grand Junction, Colorado, according to the Associated Press. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland will reverse a decision made by the Trump administration that moved BLM offices into the West two years ago.
Grand Junction will become BLM’s western headquarters, Haaland said in a news release, with “an important role to play in the bureau’s clean energy, outdoor recreation, conservation, and scientific missions among other important work as a leadership center in the West.”
“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, ″ Haaland said. She added that BLM’s presence in Colorado and across the West will continue to grow.
BLM manages 245 million acres of federal property, much of it in the West and Rocky Mountain region. On those lands the Bureau largely controls agriculture, energy development and extraction, cattle grazing, timber management, outdoor recreation, and wilderness access.
The Trump administration had moved the BLM headquarters to Colorado as part of what it called a “needed reorganization that put top agency officials closer to the public lands it oversees,” according to the AP. The agency lost nearly 300 employees to retirement or resignation after its headquarters was moved to Grand Junction, according to the AP.
Top Colorado Democrats, including Governor Jared Polis and members of the state’s Congressional delegation, wanted BLM headquarters to stay in Grand Junction.
Democratic U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper of Colorado said Haaland’s decision to keep a presence in Grand Junction “will help ensure we have a fully functioning agency that understands the West.″
Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said BLM doesn’t need two headquarters.
“The Biden administration’s answer for everything is to double the size of government,” Barrasso said. “The single headquarters of BLM belongs in the West, closer to the resources it manages and the people it serves.”
According to the A.P., Barrasso said what the BLM needs “is an honest director who doesn’t bring shame to the agency,″ referring to President Joe Biden’s controversial nominee to lead the bureau, Tracy Stone-Manning, who Republicans are trying to block.