Two Colorado congressmen say the U.S. Bureau of Land Management should move its headquarters from Washington, D.C., to the western United States, where most of the 248 million acres that the BLM manages is located.
Sen. Cory Gardner and Rep. Scott Tipton, both Republicans, filed legislation last week calling on the U.S. Interior Department to develop a plan for moving the bureau’s headquarters with an eye toward saving tax dollars. They said the move would make the agency more responsive to the communities where it manages land.
“It is critical that land management decisions impacting the West are made by the people who know the land best,” Tipton said in a statement.
The BLM manages about 18 million acres in New Mexico.
In a statement Tuesday, Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., illustrated the conflict facing leaders from Western states that might want to bring jobs to their community but are wary of losing the BLM headquarters to a neighboring state and watching power over the bureau consolidated elsewhere.
“Of course I would welcome moving the BLM headquarters to New Mexico,” Udall said. “But a Washington, D.C., headquarters is better for New Mexico than one in California or Wyoming, and realistically I don’t think the BLM headquarters is going anywhere anytime soon.”
Jeff Ruch, executive director of the advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, said the idea of moving BLM’s headquarters “seems more of a political stunt than a thoughtful proposal.”
Ruch said a small share of BLM staff is based in Washington and many would have to travel to the capital if its headquarters were moved, for example, to work with members of Congress or draft budgets.
Unclear is how many federal employees would be affected. Spokesmen for the Interior Department did not respond to questions.
The legislation by Tipton and Gardner mention 12 states where BLM headquarters could be moved, but they seem to have a specific spot in mind. In a joint statement, both mentioned Grand Junction, Colo.
Contact Andrew Oxford at 505-986-3093 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @andrewboxford.