The Bureau of Land Management controls a lot of federal land, 245 million acres. Most of it is west of the Rockies, but the agency’s headquarters is all the way back in Washington, D.C., 1,600 miles east. Thanks to President Donald Trump, that’s about to change. BLM is moving to Colorado. Top officials feel like they are being exiled to Siberia.
The federal bureaucracy has gotten so out of touch with the people who’s lives they influence, it nearly caused an insurrection only a few short years ago.
Starting in 2012, 73-year-old Dwight Lincoln Hammond, Jr., and his son, Steven Dwight Hammond, were sent to jail, released, then sent to jail again, simply for managing their own ranch land. The Bundy brothers, Ammon and Ryan, came to their rescue, eventually seizing control of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in protest.
The dispute ended when leaders of the group were ambushed. Arizona rancher Robert LaVoy Finicum was shot to death by federal agents. Everyone was eventually cleared in court and the Hammonds were pardoned by President Trump.
Colorado Senator Cory Gardner welcomes the headquarters move to Grand Junction, noting the move “will bring the bureau’s decision makers closer to the people they serve and the public lands they manage.”
“Ninety-nine percent of the land the BLM manages is West of the Mississippi River, and so should be the BLM headquarters,” he added in a follow up statement.
The state’s Governor, Jared Polis, also sent out a press release, “Grand Junction is the perfect location for the BLM because of community support, location closer to the land they manage, and the positive impact on economy.”
How true these statements are! Those making the decisions will finally be living among the people that their decisions will affect!
Both Senator and Governor are happy about it, but apparently the Washington office of the BLM is not. They feel they are being sent to the primitive wastelands of flyover country, far away from the beltway cocktail party scene they prefer.
I am thrilled to announce the @BLMNational headquarters is coming to Grand Junction! Today is a historic day for our nation’s public lands, western states, and the people of Colorado. pic.twitter.com/e8ErI85Ftr
— Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) July 15, 2019
As related by Stars and Stripes, “If I wanted to dismantle an agency, this would be in my playbook,” former BLM deputy director Steve Ellis explains. “Transferring so many employees out of Washington could complicate the agency’s relationship with Capitol Hill, budget officials and other federal entities. It’s important for these agencies to have a meaningful footprint in D.C.”
“The Public Lands Foundation, made up of retired BLM employees, is pushing back on the relocation of headquarters staff. The group believes the move “would diminish the bureau’s influence in the development of budgets and policies.” one board member, George Stone, complains.
”I don’t see how it will make it more efficient or effective, You’ve got to be present to win, and if you’re not there, you’re out west, and you’re not represented, your agency will not benefit.”
Boo hoo. If you are not there, you’re “out west,” like “in the middle of nowhere?” Siberia with better skiing? You will not be represented any longer? You will not win?
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Wow, folks out here in the wild ’out west’ are glad to have Mr. Stone explain how this works. Ranchers and cattlemen are convinced that this relocation will do a lot of good for the organization and for the people of Colorado.
It appears that the Agriculture Department has made plans to relocate as well, however, the union representing its employees say a large number plan to quit rather than make the move. Wow, they must not need the work or want the jobs. The good news is that it will mean job openings for those that are way ‘out west’ in Kansas too.