It's official: The Bureau of Land Management is now headquartered in Grand Junction. Most of the federal staff relocating to Mesa County from the nation's capital are expected to be on the job by the end of August.
Monday, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt signed an order making the switch official to end a multi-year process proposed by Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner of Yuma and supported by his Democratic counterpart, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Denver.
“This relocation strengthens our relationship with communities in the West by ensuring decisionmakers are living and working closer to the lands they manage for the American people," Bernhardt, who grew up in Rifle and practiced law in Denver, said in a statement. "This effort will also save a great deal of money that can be reinvested in our field operations.”
BLM interim director William Perry Pendley said the agency would do its best to be "a good neighbor and responsible steward of America’s public lands."
“We also worked hard to ensure that each of those employees unable to move found a job in the Washington, D.C., metro area," he stated. "And the folks who wanted to move West are—or soon will be—settled in various Western cities.”
Employees were notified in November that they could relocate or find other jobs.
The Trump administration argued that since most of the 247.3 million acres managed BLM are in the West, so should the agency that manages that property.
The move, however, has not been as grand as first expected.
Love him or hate the Trump administration, Dave Bernhardt should make Colorado proud.
While the agency had about 360 employees in Washington, 27 top-level positions moved to Grand Junction, 61 remained in D.C and others were spread among existing regional offices. The agency rents space in Grand Junction in the same building that houses Chevron’s regional offices, critics noted.
Conservation Colorado rolled out a campaign Monday against Pendley's nomination for the BLM position. The Cheyenne, Wyo., and conservative commentator has been opposed by groups of the left that allege they don't trust him.
They have called on Gardner, whom they also have opposed, to renounce his nomination.