Home Secretary to move BLM headquarters to Washington
Home Secretary Deb Haaland intends to move the headquarters of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to Washington, DC, as part of what she called efforts to rebuild the agency.
Grand Junction will remain the western headquarters, however, with an expanded operation.
“There is no doubt 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 best lead its mission, ”Haaland said. in a press release from the US Department of the Interior. “In addition, BLM’s strong presence in Colorado and the West will continue to grow. “
U.S. Representative Lauren Boebert, a Republican whose 3rd Congressional District includes Grand Junction, condemned the decision. “This is clearly a partisan attack on rural communities. This has not been thought of and important questions have not yet been answered, ”she said in a press release.
However, Grand Junction could still benefit from it, Boebert said. “It could still be a win for Grand Junction and the West, as the West headquarters will remain in Grand Junction. More jobs will move to Grand Junction, and not all jobs that have moved west will be returned to DC ”
The Home Office announced in 2019 its intention to move the BLM headquarters to Grand Junction as well as reassign BLM staff to other locations closer to public lands managed by the agency.
Considering the higher costs of offices in Washington compared to other parts of the country as well as travel between western states and the capital, it was estimated that the move could save $ 50 to $ 100 million over 20 years. .
The Grand Junction Economic Partnership estimated the initial economic contributions of operating BLM’s headquarters in Grand Junction at $ 11 million.
According to the Home Office, of 328 positions moved out of Washington, only 41 people moved. Only three people moved to Grand Junction. Hundreds of people have left the agency.
Haaland said in the press release that the past few years have been troubling for the agency and its more than 7,000 employees. “As we move forward, my priority is to revitalize and rebuild the BLM so that it can meet pressing challenges. of our time and ensure the well-being of our employees.
Haaland said the BLM director and other leadership positions would move along with the national headquarters in Washington. But other senior executives will operate from a headquarters in western Grand Junction, among the more than 95% of BLM employees who work outside Washington. With the exception of basic managerial positions, the BLM will not require employees to relocate.
Boebert criticized American senses Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, both Democrats from Colorado, for not using procedural tools – including blocking the confirmation of Tracy Stone-Manning as BLM director – to secure an engagement. to maintain the BLM headquarters in Grand Junction.
Boebert pushed for a FY20 budget amendment that banned the use of funds to move the seat. The House natural resources committee adopted the amendment.
The question now, she said, is whether the promise of a BLM headquarters in west Grand Junction will be fulfilled. “This new work at Grand Junction must be delivered. People should know about them and what they are, and the details shouldn’t be changed later.