Rep. Boebert’s Amendment to Keep the Bureau of Land Management Headquarters in Grand Junction Passes with Unanimous, Bipartisan Support
Today, the bipartisan House Committee on Natural Resources unanimously voted to pass Rep. Lauren Boebert’s amendment to the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2022 to keep the Bureau of Land Management headquarters in Grand Junction.
Rep. Lauren Boebert stated: “Westerners deserve a voice in the land-use decisions that affect their daily lives, and it would be wrong to move the Bureau of Land Management thousands of miles away from the land it manages back to a faceless marble building in D.C. 99% of the lands that the Bureau manages are West of the Mississippi, and it only makes sense to keep the agency located near the communities it serves. The bipartisan, unanimous vote today shows that the facts are clear: keeping the Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters in Grand Junction has always had broad bipartisan support.”
House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman said: “Federal agencies exist to serve the American people. What better way to do that than by being located in the very communities they serve? The Bureau of Land Management is a critical resource for the American West, and as such, should remain headquartered there as a way to facilitate better communication and collaboration between federal, state and local stakeholders. Congresswoman Boebert has been a tireless advocate for this issue, and I’m pleased to see every member of the Natural Resources Committee show bipartisan support for her amendment to prevent this bill from moving the BLM headquarters out of Grand Junction.”
Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Dan Newhouse stated: “Moving the Bureau of Land Management’s Headquarters to Grand Junction has proven what we know to be true: Our lands in the West are far better managed by boots on the ground than the bureaucrats in D.C. Rep. Boebert has been a leader in the effort to keep the BLM Headquarters in Colorado and has strongly advocated for the more effective land management practices, job creation, and economic development the move brings to her district and her state. I’m very pleased to see her amendment adopted and look forward to continuing to work with her to ensure the Administration listens to local voices who want to keep BLM closer to the lands they manage.”
Background on Rep. Boebert’s Amendments and Efforts to Keep the Bureau of Land Management headquarters in Grand Junction:
Rep. Boebert’s Bureau of Land Management amendment to the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2022 had unanimous bipartisan support. It prohibits the use of funds made available in the FY2022 budget from being used to close the Bureau of Land Management headquarters in Grand Junction.
Rep. Boebert’s Department of the Interior transparency amendment also passed with unanimous bipartisan support. Rep. Boebert’s amendment requires the Secretary of the Interior to notify the House Committee on Natural Resources 180 days before announcing the Department of the Interior’s intent to change the inflation adjustment to the maximum civil penalty.
Rep. Boebert has been actively leading the effort to keep the Bureau of Land Management headquarters in Grand Junction:
- 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.
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 percent 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 has already 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 are now assigned out West as a result of the relocation.