This past week, the US Department of the Interior confirmed that they intend to move the Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters from Washington, DC to a western state location.
Although no specifics were provided on the potential new home of the BLM, some of the locations being discussed are Grand Junction, Colorado, Boise, Idaho, and Salt Lake City, Utah.
Alaska, Arizona, California, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming are also listed as possible host states.
The move west makes a lot of sense, since over 90% of the 247 million acres of land managed by the BLM lies west of the Mississippi River. The BLM along with its sister federal agencies (US Forest Service, National Parks Service, and Fish and Wildlife Service) own more than 50% of the western states.
The mission of the BLM is “to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of the present and future generations.” BLM land is used for grazing, mining, and recreational purposes.
In 2009, the Renewable Energy Coordination offices were established to oversee renewable energy projects on BLM-managed land, including wind farms, solar farms, biomass, and geothermal projects. These offices are located in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Wyoming where energy companies have shown the greatest interest in renewable energy development.
With major decisions being made by a scant percent of BLM employees in Washington DC, a lack of understanding of the needs and knowledge of the various nuances of the different uses of the land has lead to what some feel are flawed management policies.
Many feel that with federal decision-makers living in close proximity to the land they manage, they could better understand and experience the economic, cultural, recreational, and spiritual significance of the land and the decisions involving its use.
The agency manages 221 million acres of wilderness, 27 national monuments, 36 million acres of National Conservation Lands, 700 million acres of subsurface mineral rights, and 18,000 grazing leases for livestock.
More than 205,000 miles of fishable streams and thousands of miles of trails used by hikers, equestrians, and mountain bikers are available on BLM lands. It is estimated that BLM lands see around 62 million recreational visitors each year.
There will be many months ahead of assessment of possible locations as possible headquarters and considerations such as the cost of living, access between Washington DC and population centers, and quality of life, but the westward relocation may be a benefit to those who use the land.
Marthella Leamon says
This makes total sense!
Rodney Boucher says
Could the same logic be applied to the Dept of Interior?
I hope this doesn’t just make it easier for Interior (and their big boss) to carve up preserved areas and National Monuments.
Jean Eyler says
I would suggest skipping Alaska as it is too far away and California because it is way too expensive to live there.
probably save taxpayers some money and be staffed by people that are more akin to the outdoors
Wayne Hecker says
Will probably cost them a lot more in the long run. Will have to build or rent new offices. Move a bunch of people out of Washington and pay for their moving costs. Etc. Most people working for the agencies in Washington began their career in the boonies so they know what is happening out there. I doubt it will be a big savings, and it will probably cost the taxpayers more in the long run. Ive been through the move to save money several times. It hasn’t panned out for the taxpayer in most cases.
Dave J says
Under the same logic let’s move the whole Capitol into the midwest.
The costs will likely rise ads there isn’t appropriate infrastructure. The issue I would worry about is not being where the actual decisions are made. Hard to tell what is really going on in Washington from Wyoming… I would want to be where the decisions are made…
BLM already has a huge office in Denver at the Federal Center. Lots more space there to expand if needed.
John Maryland says
Anywhere but California
I think Congress should be moved to the center of Kansas, out on some old military base. Lock them in, make sure any airport is hundreds of miles away. Provide housing for them, about 1000 sq ft each. Let lobbyist into the compound for 4 hours a week only.
You have my vote
Only about 500 of the nearly 9000 permanent BLM employees are based in Washington. The expense of moving this small number of employees seems like a waste. All, it will be much harder for congress and the inspector general to conduct oversight from a distance.
Don’t be fooled, this is an effort to make seasoned staff leave the agency.
The same thing happened at USDA.
It’s not a good thing to lose experienced staff that probably won’t all be replaced.