Now that Republicans in Washington are set to move 29 Bureau of Land Management officials to Grand Junction, Republicans in the Colorado legislature would like to follow suit with state jobs.
Thursday morning West Slope Reps. Matt Soper of Delta, Janice Rich of Grand Junction and Perry Will of New Castle said they would propose that the headquarters of Colorado Parks and Wildlife move to Mesa County, as well.
However, they have no leverage to make it happen: Democrats control both chambers of the legislature, and Boulder Democrat Jared Polis sits in the governor's office.
The proposed BLM move out of Washington, D.C., would bring a total of about 85 jobs to Colorado. The rest would be divided between BLM's existing field offices across the state and the National Operations Center at the Federal Center in Lakewood.
The Mesa County GOP trio makes the same case the Department of Interior made: The leaders should be closer to the issues they manage.
“It keeps them from being removed and insulated from local issues," Will said in a statement. "This would also somewhat remove our employees from the political machine, so they can concentrate on managing the state’s natural resources.”
Soper framed it as a political challenge to Democrats.
“If Denver really cares about rural economic development and helping the West Slope, then relocating CPW to Grand Junction would be a win-win-win for the State,” he said in a statement.
Polis, himself, didn't offer a reply, but a spokeswoman provided a statement:
“Colorado Parks and Wildlife has robust regional and area offices throughout the state, including 65 staff located in Mesa County alone and managing parks and wildlife with counties in all corners of the state.
"The Governor is interested in working with legislators of both parties to provide equitable services to all Coloradans and save taxpayer money and increase efficiency, and welcomes Rep. Soper to look at the costs and benefits of such a move.”
Rich is thinking big about government jobs in her home county.
“I’d like to see Mesa County become a hub for public lands management and perhaps the state and federal government could develop a joint complex for public lands.” she stated. “It is exciting that the BLM sees the importance of moving its headquarters to Grand Junction. This is the perfect time for Colorado to seriously look to moving the Colorado Parks & Wildlife to the Western Slope, as well.”