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Rep. Boebert Condemns the Partisan Decision to Move the Bureau of Land Management Headquarters back to D.C. and Condemns Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper for Failing to Stand up for Colorado

September 17, 2021

Today, Rep. Boebert condemned the Department of Interior’s partisan decision to move the Bureau of Land Management headquarters back to D.C. and condemned Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper for failing to stand up for Colorado by using procedural tactics easily available to them.

Rep. Lauren Boebert stated: “The fight to keep the Bureau of Land Management in Grand Junction was always bipartisan, but when it came down to the wire, Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper folded and failed to stand up for Colorado by using procedural tools to leverage the Biden regime to keep the main Bureau of Land Management headquarters, Director, and senior leadership in Grand Junction. The junior senator from Michigan held up eight high-level Department of Defense nominations to leverage a win for his state, but Bennet and Hickenlooper combined couldn’t find the courage to place a hold on just one nominee. As usual, these politicians’ promises were nothing more than empty words. I hope they will be vigilant in ensuring the rug isn’t pulled out from under them and that the new promises the Biden regime made them materialize. 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. 

“Today’s rushed decision isn’t about helping western communities. It is clearly a partisan attack on rural communities. It hasn’t been thought-out, and important questions have yet to be answered, including where will employees that move back to D.C. work? As the Department of the Interior is essentially empty currently, when will these employees go back to in-person work? How many employees will move to D.C. and Grand Junction? What employees will move to D.C. and Grand Junction? Where will the employees that move to D.C and Grand Junction move from? When will impacted employees receive written notice? Given the lack of detail and information provided for this reprogramming, appropriators should immediately reject this political, partisan move that isn’t in the best interest of taxpayers, the agency, or its employees.

“From my first days in Congress, I have done everything I can to keep the Bureau headquarters in Grand Junction. While I’m disappointed with today’s decision and the details are light, this could still 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.” 

House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman stated: “Today's misguided, partisan decision has nothing to do with executing good land management and everything to do with centralizing and growing big government. A two-quarterback BLM system with one headquarters in D.C. and another headquarters in Colorado will layer bureaucracies, further confusing and complicating an already confused and complicated agency. A Friday afternoon audible to reverse a move that would save millions of taxpayer dollars and put employees closer to the people affected by their decisions is another bad play call by a Biden administration already on the hot seat. Unfortunately American farmers, ranchers and all the rural communities that rely on public lands are the ones who bear the brunt of the confusion. I strongly oppose the administration's decision and urge them to reconsider and actually listen to what the communities out west need most.”

Western Caucus Chairman Dan Newhouse said: “Putting management of lands in the West back into the hands of D.C. bureaucrats will only result in less effective management, loss of economic activity, and even greater mistrust of the federal government. It’s inconceivable that the Administration would ignore the wishes of not only Colorado’s local communities but also those of rural communities throughout the West who are impacted by the Bureau of Land Management’s decision-making. The Headquarters’ move to Grand Junction garnered strong bipartisan support in the House, the Senate, the state of Colorado, and the entire West. This ridiculous notion of having dual headquarters is a display of the worst kind of D.C. theatrics that will only lend to further uncertainty about BLM's land management decisions. The Biden Administration’s betrayal of rural America will not be forgotten. The question now is for Colorado Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper: Will you still vote to confirm Tracy-Stone Manning if she does not commit to reversing this terrible decision for the people of Colorado?”

Background:

Rep. Boebert’s amendment prohibiting the use of funds made available in the FY2022 budget from being used to close the Bureau of Land Management headquarters in Grand Junction passed with unanimous, bipartisan support, reaffirming that moving the agency back to D.C. is only a position held by radical entrenched swamp creatures like Secretary Haaland and Tracy Stone-Manning.

The misguided decision to move the Bureau’s headquarters back to D.C. will hurt taxpayers. The Bureau’s initial move West cost taxpayers approximately $18 million and the move back will likely cost at least that and more. Furthermore, there is no identified location to move the agency back to as the M Street location no longer exists due to skyrocketing leasing costs.

Rep. Boebert fought hard to keep the Bureau of Land Management headquarters in Grand Junction, and she will continue to work protect the remaining jobs at the Bureau’s Grand Junction location.

  • In her first month in office, Rep. Boebert led a letter to President Biden requesting that the Bureau of Land Management headquarters remain in Grand Junction.
  • In February, Rep. Boebert participated in a bipartisan and bicameral roundtable with Governor Polis and Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper calling on the Biden administration to keep the Bureau of Land Management headquarters in Grand Junction.
  • In March, Rep. Boebert joined local stakeholders in inviting Secretary Haaland to visit the Bureau of Land Management headquarters in Grand Junction to hear how the agency’s move West has benefited rural Americans.
  • Later in March, Rep. Boebert introduced the Local Opportunities, Conservation, and American Lands (LOCAL) Act to require that the Bureau of Land Management headquarters remain in Grand Junction.
  • In April, Rep. Boebert joined Chairman of the Western Caucus, Congressman Dan Newhouse, at a roundtable with rural stakeholders discussing how the Bureau’s move West has given them a voice in land management decisions.
  • In July, Rep. Boebert joined a bipartisan and bicameral roundtable with Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper, Congressman Neguse, Governor Polis, and Secretary Haaland at the Bureau of Land Management headquarters in Grand Junction. Secretary Haaland heard from the farmers, ranchers, and rural community members that would be harmed if she moved the Bureau’s headquarters back to D.C.
  • Later in July, Rep. Boebert led Reps. Doug Lamborn and Ken Buck in calling on Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper to hold up Tracy Stone-Manning’s nomination in order to secure a commitment from the Biden administration to keep the Bureau of Land Management headquarters in Grand Junction.
  • This month, Rep. Boebert’s amendment prohibiting the use of funds made available in the FY2022 budget from being used to close the Bureau of Land Management headquarters in Grand Junction passed the House Committee on Natural Resources with unanimous, bipartisan support.

Background on the Bureau of Land Management headquarters’ move West:

The Bureau of Land Management headquarters was established in Grand Junction in August of 2020 after a competitive process to select the new location. Grand Junction was chosen because of its substantial cost savings, travel accessibility, quality of life attributes, and increased representation among the communities affected by land management decisions. Since its opening, the headquarters has proven to be an overwhelming success for rural Colorado, taxpayers, federal employees, the Bureau of Land Management, and communities impacted by land management decisions.

99% of the 245 million acres managed by the Bureau of Land Management are in the West, so it only makes sense that the agency’s headquarters should be near its field offices and near the people its decisions affect. Since its opening, the headquarters’ western location has allowed diverse constituencies to have a voice in land management decisions, and Western stakeholders like sheriffs, ranchers, and county commissioners who would never have traveled to Washington D.C. for a meeting have already found their way to Grand Junction to meet with senior leadership.

The move has already started to benefit taxpayers. The agency estimates it will save more than $2 million in fiscal year 2021 in lease costs and $1.9 million in salary savings annually based on locality pay. The Department of the Interior has also reported that it saved $1.9 million on travel costs in fiscal year 2020.

The establishment of the headquarters in Grand Junction has reduced the number of long cross-country flights and travel costs, improved training, delegated more responsibility to employees in the field, increased operating hours due to proximity of time zones, improved customer service and coordination with local communities, ensured better decisions earlier in the decision-making process, reduced commute times for employees, and provided good-paying local jobs.

Any misguided effort to move the Bureau back to D.C. would have significant costs. The initial move West cost taxpayers approximately $18 million and any move back would cost at least that and more. Furthermore, there is no identified location to move them back to as the M Street location no longer exists.

Land management decisions are best made by the people who live, work, and raise their families on or near public lands and that are invested in local communities. Many Bureau employees excitedly made the move, grateful to escape the swamp and to experience many of the issues firsthand that they had been working on for years. Several have done interviews and gone on the record to make clear that this is where they want to be, and that they don’t want to live or work in Washington D.C. It is rewarding for Bureau employees to be able to have access to the types of recreation activities available on the public lands they manage like hiking, hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, skiing, off-roading, climbing, and wildlife viewing.

Additionally, as a result of the Bureau’s move West, it received an overwhelming number of job applications from Westerners with expertise in public lands management. The resulting expansion of the Bureau of Land Management’s talent pool is already improving public land management decisions and helping the agency serve its constituency effectively.

The Bureau’s move West was flawlessly executed by senior leadership and dedicated career staff, and not one federal employee was removed as a result of the agency’s move West. The Department of the Interior found jobs for people that wanted to stay in D.C. and paid expenses to help employees make the move West. The Bureau’s move West also successfully avoided any Equal Employment Opportunity or U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board complaints, legal challenges, or adverse union activities.

The local Mesa County community gave the Bureau a warm welcome and created a Relocation Task Force to ensure an easy transition for all employees and their families. Task force services included pre-move visits to provide a single point of contact and provide information, a real estate team to help locate housing, and a school placement team to ensure the best education options were available including charter schools.

Colorado benefitted immensely from the move West by having more than 80 Bureau employees assigned to our state, including more than 40 in Grand Junction that are estimated to provide $11 million in annual economic benefits. Additionally, more than 300 other positions were assigned out West as a result of the relocation.