DENVER – The headquarters of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management will no longer be based in Grand Junction, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said Friday.
The BLM moved the headquarters to Grand Junction in 2019 during the Trump administration. According to a news release from the Interior Department, the main headquarters will move back to Washington, D.C., while Grand Junction will serve as its Western bureau and would be expanded.
“This office will reinforce western perspectives in decision-making and have an important role to play in the bureau’s clean energy, outdoor recreation, conservation, and scientific missions, among other important work as a leadership center in the West,” the Interior Department said in the release.
The department said that the Trump administration’s relocation of the headquarters “failed to deliver promised jobs across the West and drove hundreds of people out of the agency.”
Out of 328 positions that moved out of the D.C. headquarters, only 41 people relocated and just three moved to Grand Junction, the department said.
“This led to a significant loss of institutional memory and talent. The headquarters transition will be conducted with a goal of minimizing further disruption to employees and their families,” the department said in the news release.
There had been a push by Colorado’s members of Congress and senators to relocate the agency to Colorado under the Trump administration.
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., said in a statement in response to the move that he was disappointed the headquarters would move back to Washington but the expansion of the Grand Junction office as “a very positive development.”
“I’ve spoken to DOI leadership about the importance of both staffing up the office to fill current vacancies and continuing to grow the BLM’s presence in Grand Junction – in number of employees and significance,” he said. “I will hold the Administration accountable to ensure that the BLM Western Headquarters is permanent, fully staffed and informed by the voices of the Rocky Mountain West.”
Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., said in order to succeed, the western headquarters “must be a strong, permanent presence.”
“A Western BLM Headquarters in Colorado will help ensure we have a fully functioning agency that understands the West,” he said. “We’ll keep working to secure jobs in Grand Junction, including senior leadership positions.”
Rep. Lauren Boebert, the Republican who represents the district that includes Grand Junction, called the decision “rushed” and “a partisan attack on rural communities.”
“These new Grand Junction jobs need to be delivered, people should know about them and what they are, and the details shouldn’t be changed later,” she said. “…While I’m disappointed with today’s decision and the details are light, this could ultimately be a win for Grand Junction and the West as a western headquarters will remain in Grand Junction, more jobs will move to Grand Junction, and all the jobs that moved out West won’t be moved back to D.C.”
Gov. Jared Polis, D-Colo., called the move a “good thing for Colorado and our country.”
“The initial presence was far too small and now I’m finally hopeful that the office will grow,” the governor said in a statement. “…The BLM has committed to growing this headquarters, and we look forward to many more BLM staff joining those already in Grand Junction which is a natural home for the BLM.”
This is a developing news story and will be updated.