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Congress debates Bureau of Land Management move to Grand Junction

BLM’s acting director, a Coloradan, and several Colorado members of Congress discuss

Justin Wingerter
The Denver Post
Rain moves over the cliffs at Colorado National Monument on Aug. 5, 2019, in Grand Junction, Colorado.
RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post

The acting director of the Bureau of Land Management on Tuesday defended his agency’s decision to move its headquarters to Grand Junction in the face of criticisms that it will cause career employees to depart, will needlessly cost federal coffers and will harm tribal interests.

“Nearly every Western state will realize significant benefits from this reorganization,” William Perry Pendley, a longtime Colorado resident and lawyer, told the House Natural Resources Committee.

In mid-July, it was announced that BLM will move its headquarters and 27 top staffers to Grand Junction. Supporters of the plan, led by Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Yuma, say it moves decision-making closer to the federal lands that BLM oversees. Critics say the real goal is to cut the size of BLM, effectively weakening the public lands agency.

“I don’t think it’s a question of distrust in the people of Grand Junction,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, during the hearing Tuesday. “It’s the distrust that’s centered on this (Trump) administration, their motivations, and what is really behind the move that we’re here trying to get at.”

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