Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced plans last week for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to return its main offices to Washington after President Trump moved its headquarters to Colorado in 2019. The new BLM offices recently opened in Grand Junction, and Colorado is expected to serve as a “western headquarters.”
Haaland said in a statement that BLM is critical to the missions of addressing the climate, expanding access to public lands, and preserving America’s “outdoor heritage.” She added that there is “no doubt” that BLM should have its leadership in Washington, “like all the other agencies.” She said that moving back to D.C. would ensure that BLM has access to decision-makers regarding policy and budgeting.
When serving as a Representative and a member of the House Natural Resources Committee in 2019, Haaland said that Trump’s moving of the BLM offices to Colorado was an effort to “destroy the agency.”
Meanwhile, some Republicans see the decision to maintain offices in Grand Junction as vindication of the decision to move the agency during the Trump administration. Casey Hammond, who was BLM director in 2019, said that keeping the Colorado offices is a “great victory” for the effort to move agency resources closer to the bulk of the land under federal management.
William Perry Pendley, who also led the BLM under President Trump, said that Haaland is trying to “save face” as the Colorado offices are expected to expand. He said that BLM cannot effectively be run from Washington and that he had “put the people running the show out where the show’s taking place.”
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) described the move of headquarters back to Washington as “a partisan attack on rural communities.” She said that the fight to keep the agency in Grand Junction had been bipartisan until it “came down to the wire,” when Colorado’s Democratic Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper failed to “stand up for Colorado” by pressuring the Biden administration to keep the senior BLM leadership in place.
Other Congressional Republicans noted that maintaining two headquarters will lead to confusion and extra layers of bureaucracy that already burden a complex agency.