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Colorado lawmakers want fully functioning BLM headquarters in Grand Junction

Senators, representatives advocate to keep operations on Western Slope
Colorado lawmakers are asking President Joe Biden to keep the Bureau of Land Management headquarters in Grand Junction, and if anything, to beef up the operation.

Members of Colorado’s Capitol Hill delegation expressed support for a fully functioning Bureau of Land Management headquarters in Grand Junction in two separate letters to President Joe Biden.

On Jan. 22, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., signed a letter urging the Biden administration to ensure that a fully functioning BLM headquarters be installed permanently in Grand Junction.

In 2019, David Bernhardt, secretary of the Interior Department in the Trump administration, announced the BLM headquarters would move to Grand Junction. The move was finalized in 2020.

That, however, is not enough, according to the letter written by Colorado’s senators to the president.

“The Trump administration did not follow through on their promise to Grand Junction,” the letter says.

Few positions for the headquarters have been filled, and many who worked for the BLM when it was based in Washington, D.C., chose not to follow the headquarters to the West, disrupting the agency’s operations.

“Instead of opening a true BLM headquarters in Grand Junction, the previous administration sought to dismantle protections for public lands and circumvent conservation,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “That will change under President Biden.”

In the letter, the senators maintain the benefits of Colorado as a permanent home for a fully functioning BLM headquarters.

According to the letter, a fully functioning BLM headquarters in Grand Junction would benefit the western Colorado economy.

“We believe that such an effort must be more than symbolic and must include the staff and resources to improve management and protect our public land,” the letter says.

On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert and 21 other Republican members of the House of Representatives signed a similar letter to Biden in support of a fully functioning BLM headquarters in Grand Junction. Colorado Reps. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., and Ken Buck, R-Colo., also signed the letter.

“It only makes sense to have the people managing hundreds of millions of acres of land located near that land and accessible to those communities,” Boebert said in a statement. “The Bureau of Land Management’s move West is a win for all Americans.”

The letter signed by Boebert and her Republican colleagues in the House focuses less on the shortcomings of the previous administration than the letter signed by the Colorado senators.

Instead, the letter that was signed this week focuses on the benefits of moving the headquarters to Grand Junction.

According to the letter, keeping the headquarters in Grand Junction would benefit taxpayers and “any effort to move the bureau back to D.C. would have significant costs and could negatively impact employees.”

Both letters state the importance of having the BLM headquarters in close proximity to the lands the agency oversees.

“A fully-fledged HQ in Colorado would make clear that rural America is an appropriate place for this prestigious institution,” Bennet said in a tweet Monday.

Grace George is an intern for The Durango Herald and The Journal in Cortez and a student at American University in Washington, D.C.

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