By Matt Kroschel

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – Speaking to a friendly crowd of conservative allies, Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said the plan to move the Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters to Grand Junction just makes sense. He took several questions from the crowd gathered in Steamboat Springs for Steamboat Institute’s Freedom Conference on Friday morning.

The scene at the Freedom Conference inside the ballroom at the Steamboat Grand on Friday. (credit: CBS)

Many people asked about wildlife protections and the BLM’s move from Washington to Colorado’s Western Slope.

“It’s very easy to be 2,500 miles away and make a decision about a piece of land that you know nothing about,” said Bernhardt.

Just outside of the conference room, a single protester stood on the sidewalk. Stuart Lynn’s sign read “Earth Killer Conference.”

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is sworn in during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee confirmation hearing on March 28. (credit: Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Lynn said he already does not like what he sees coming out of the new administration at the Department of the Interior.

“It’s all about the rich getting richer,” Lynn said.

Bernhardt hails from Colorado. He was raised in Rifle and spent a lot of time on the Western Slope. He also has close ties to the oil and natural gas industry. That cozy relationship concerns Lynn.

(credit: CBS)

Later in the day on Friday, other protesters concerned with issues ranging from wild horse management to oil and natural gas leasing on public lands gathered on the grass outside the courthouse downtown. Bernhardt was long gone; his security detail was on the move a couple of minutes after his speech wrapped up in the morning.

The conference continues this weekend in Steamboat with more guest speakers.

Matt Kroschel


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