By Pam Zubeck (Colorado Springs Independent)
Though it sounds like a good deal for Colorado, at least one conservation agency takes issue with Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s decision to move the Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters from Washington, D.C., to Grand Junction.
Rep. Scott Tipton, for example, who represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, praised the move, saying he “could not be happier.” He noted that the West contains 99 percent of federal lands and “local input provided to the BLM from our constituents will no doubt improve how federal lands are managed.”
The BLM, in a letter to Congress, outlined why it’s a good idea to move the agency.
And Bernhardt, a former oil industry lobbyist, said in a statement:
“Under our proposal, every Western state will gain additional staff resources. This approach will play an invaluable role in serving the American people more efficiently while also advancing the Bureau of Land Management’s multiple-use mission. Shifting critical leadership positions and supporting staff to western states — where an overwhelming majority of federal lands are located — is not only a better management system, it is beneficial to the interest of the American public in these communities, cities, counties and states.”
Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, lauded the move in a tweet, saying, “Today is a historic day for our nation’s public lands, western states, and the people of Colorado.”
Colorado’s Democratic Senator Michael Bennet, who’s running for president, also has expressed support for the move.
But hold on, said the Denver-based Center for Western Priorities.
“This isn’t an effort to move the Bureau of Land Management headquarters,” the center’s executive director Jennifer Rokala said in a release. “It’s an attempt to dismantle it altogether. While only a couple dozen people will be sent to Grand Junction, nearly three hundred others will be scattered in offices throughout the West.”
Calling the move a “PR stunt,” Rokala also said, “It’s yet another cynical attempt to drain the Interior Department of expertise and career leadership. Our public lands deserve an agency that is effectively coordinating with the Interior Department more broadly, and with Congress.
Grand Junction folks, not surprisingly, are thrilled, according to Robin Brown, director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership.
In a statement provided by Tipton, Brown said: “Today is a great day for Grand Junction. Our community has worked very hard over the last several years to build a place that is thriving, inclusive and good for business. The decision to move BLM here is confirmation that our efforts are paying off and our values resonate across the country.”
Note: This story first appeared at csindy.com