Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) has introduced the Bureau of Land Management Headquarters Relocation Act in the U.S. Senate, legislation that would authorize Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to develop a plan to move the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) out of Washington, D.C.; Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-3) introduced the House companion bill. The bill specifies that a new headquarters be located in one of the following twelve western states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington or Wyoming. “The idea is to simply break up the Washington mentality, to bring the leadership to where the land is,” Gardner said. “This is putting the management and the decision-makers in the same place as those affected by those decisions.” Congressman Tipton echoed that sentiment with a plug for the new headquarters in Grand Junction, the biggest berg between Denver and Salt Lake City, Utah. “I am sure the people of Grand Junction would join me in inviting the BLM to the Western Slope, but a move of the headquarters to any Western city would be welcome news,” Tipton said.
Established in 1946 by President Harry S. Truman through a government reorganization (merger) between the General Land Office and U.S. Grazing Service, the BLM manages some 245 million surface acres and 700 million subsurface mineral estate acres; the vast majority beginning roughly 100 miles east of Grand Junction, Colorado, at the Continental Divide. Charged with the dual mandate of managing public land for multiple uses while conserving natural, historical, and cultural resources, the BLM has come under fire in recent years for clashes with local authorities, landowners, ranchers, and elected officials alike.
While the idea of moving federal agencies out of Washington, D.C. is not a new idea (e.g. CIA and IRS), a move of the BLM headquarters to rural Western Colorado where its popularity is less than pristine, begs the question from critics— Is a move west likely to improve BLM accountability, or become synonymous with putting the fox in the hen house?
For the “official” history of the BLM, click HERE.
For a comprehensive analysis of the BLM, see James R. Skillen’s The Nations Largest Landlord HERE.
For the Denver Post’s article on the proposed Legislation, click HERE.