BLM moving headquarters west | VailDaily.com

BLM moving headquarters west

Anna Staver
The Denver Post

The Bureau of Land Management is looking to move closer to the hiking trails, rivers, forests and fishing streams it administers.

Department of the Interior Senior Advisor Susan Combs told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that the agency "absolutely" plans to relocate BLM's headquarters.

"The secretary has made it clear that he does want to move BLM's headquarters west," Combs said. "No location has been picked, but that is something we would expect to take a look at in the next six months or so."

The BLM manages nearly 400,000 square miles of public land and almost all of it — 99 percent — is located in 12 Western states.

'Understand the land best'

"I commend Secretary Zinke for upholding his commitment to move BLM headquarters west, 99 percent of the land that the BLM manages is located in the West, and the decisions made by the Bureau have daily impacts on those who live there, so it only makes sense to move the headquarters to a western state," Rep. Scott Tipton said. "This would ensure that decisions would be made by those who understand the land best, resulting in more effective land management programs and policies.

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"The district I am fortunate enough to represent serves as a microcosm of almost every western land-management issue and I encourage the Department of the Interior to strongly consider Colorado's Third District for the new BLM headquarters."

Moving the BLM has been a goal for Tipton and Sen. Cory Gardner.

In May 2017, Gardner joined with senators from Utah, Nevada, Alaska and Montana to introduce a bill that would authorize BLM's move from Washington D.C. to a western state.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is a westerner himself. He's a former U.S. representative from Montana who notably rode a horse to his first day of work in Washington.

Bennet's response

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet has supported moving the BLM Headquarters West since August 2017. In March 2018, Bennet sent a letter to Secretary Zinke, encouraging him to visit Colorado and select it as home of the new BLM headquarters.

"It is good to hear the Department of the Interior is upholding its commitment to move the BLM headquarters West," Bennet said. "We look forward to working closely with the Department as it conducts its evaluation, and we re-extend our invitation to Secretary Zinke to visit Colorado to see for himself why there is no better home for the BLM headquarters. We must ensure this move is more than symbolic and provides the resources necessary to manage our public lands and improve agency decision making."

In a recent Natural Resources Committee hearing, Tipton had the chance to ask Zinke about the status of BLM relocation and whether Colorado was being considered. Zinke replied, "My concern is making sure that we go to a community that is high quality of life, that is affordable, a great community that can compete for millennials that want to be there and Colorado certainly fits that description."

The agency would potentially bring 600 employees with its new headquarters, prompting one member of Montrose's Economic Development Corp. to compare it to Denver getting Amazon's new headquarters.