By Jennifer McRae

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (CBS4)– The Bureau of Land Management will create dual headquarters in Grand Junction and Washington DC. The agency made the announcement on Friday, about two years after announcing the relocation of its headquarters from the District of Columbia to Colorado.

(credit: CBS)

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Instead of relocating the headquarters, BLM will create a Western Headquarters that will be based in Grand Junction along with maintaining the headquarters in the District of Columbia.

Then-U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican who represented Colorado from 2015 until this year, announced the decision to move the BLM headquarters to Grand Junction in July 2019, saying that “moving the headquarters would strengthen the agency’s relationship with local officials and move decision-makers closer to the lands and people they work with so they can make more informed decisions.”

(credit: Bureau of Land Management)

That transition to Colorado was supposed to bring about 40 new positions to the new headquarters. The move was highly criticized by formal and informal groups of retired federal land managers.

The Department of the Interior announced the decision to establish a permanent BLM Western Headquarters in Grand Junction on Friday afternoon.

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Gov. Jared Polis released this statement about the decision, after advocating for the BLM headquarters to remain in Colorado, “The bottom line is that more senior BLM officials and decision-makers moving to the Grand Junction office is a good thing for Colorado and our country. The initial presence was far too small and now I’m finally hopeful that the office will grow,” said Governor Jared Polis. “Today’s announcement that the BLM National Headquarters in Grand Junction will be growing is great news for Mesa County, our thriving outdoor economy, our treasured public lands, and everyone who loves them. Our vast great public lands enhance our Colorado way of life, support jobs, and are a refuge for wildlife and Coloradans. The BLM has committed to growing this headquarters, and we look forward to many more BLM staff joining those already in Grand Junction which is a natural home for the BLM. There is great value in being physically close to the lands under management and where decisions have impacts on the lives of Coloradans and our environment. I am glad President Biden, Secretary Haaland, and the administration are focused on the conservation and economic opportunities the Colorado growing presence of the BLM represents.”

Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, released this statement, “While I am disappointed that the national headquarters will be in Washington, I believe establishing and growing a permanent BLM Western Headquarters in Grand Junction should be a very positive development… In the coming months, I will hold the Administration accountable to ensure that the BLM Western Headquarters is permanent, fully staffed, and informed by the voices of the Rocky Mountain West — after the last administration failed to deliver on that promise.”

Sen. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, released this statement, “A Western BLM Headquarters in Colorado will help ensure we have a fully functioning agency that understands the West. We’ll keep working to secure jobs in Grand Junction, including senior leadership positions. To succeed, the Western HQ must be a strong, permanent presence that engages the community and adds a Western perspective and value to the BLM’s mission.”

(credit: CBS)

Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Republican representing Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, which is where Grand Junction is located, condemned the decision, calling it “a partisan attack on rural communities.”

She released a statement that reads, in part, “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.”

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The bureau manages nearly 8.3 million acres in Colorado.

Jennifer McRae