The Department of Interior's (DOI) Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is considering moving its headquarters from Washington, DC, to a western state, according to elected officials and others in Colorado who attended a forum with the deputy secretary last week.
Last Friday, DOI Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt met via video conference with about 30 officials from western Colorado who were attending a forum at Colorado Mesa University to discuss regional issues. Colorado’s Republican Sen. Cory Gardner and Rep. Scott Tipton, both proponents of a BLM move West, attended the meeting.
"Congressman Tipton was happy to hear Interior Deputy Secretary Bernhardt confirm DOI's plans to relocate BLM headquarters west, especially since most of the land the BLM manages is in the West," Tipton spokeswoman Kelsey Mix told NGI’s Shale Daily on Monday. "Congressman Tipton has long believed that moving BLM headquarters west would ensure that land management decisions are made by those who know the land best."
Although no official announcement has been made, Gardner said he was "thrilled" that the DOI wanted to relocate headquarters to Colorado.
"Ninety-nine percent of the nearly 250 million acres of land managed by BLM is west of the Mississippi River, and having the decision-makers present in the communities they impact will lead to better results," Gardner said. "This is an idea I first proposed in 2016, and after years of hard work, it seems it could soon become a reality.” He said he would continue to work with DOI Secretary Ryan Zinke “to further this effort and look forward to welcoming BLM to Colorado soon."
Last May, Gardner introduced Senate Bill 1007, aka, the BLM Headquarters Relocation Act, which was read twice and referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, of which he is a member. Tipton also last May introduced the identical House Resolution 2287.
Both bills call for the DOI secretary "to develop a strategy" to move BLM headquarters to a "western state,” specifically Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington or Wyoming.
"This move would not only allow for more informed decision making, but would bring more jobs to states and communities that are in great need of them," Mix said.
The BLM has about 10,000 employees nationwide, including in state, district and field offices. As of February, there were 590 permanent, temporary and term employees assigned to the BLM DC office. Of those, 319 were based in the DC metropolitan area.