The Interior Department is reversing a Trump administration move to put the Bureau of Land Management in Grand Junction, Colo., but the new outpost will now serve as a Western headquarters.
The Bureau of Land Management, a component of the Interior Department, is restoring its national headquarters to Washington, D.C., after it was moved to Grand Junction, Colo., during the Trump administration.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland told BLM employees on Friday that the agency was moving its headquarters back to the nation's capital. The Colorado outpost will serve "as the bureau's official Western headquarters," according to an agency release.
The decision will ensure that the agency is present in the capital while the Colorado headquarters will also "reinforce western perspectives in decision-making."
"There's no doubt that the BLM should have a leadership presence in Washington, D.C. – like all the other land management agencies – to ensure that it has access to the policy-, budget-, and decision-making levers to best carry out its mission," Haaland said in a statement about the move. "In addition, the BLM's robust presence in Colorado and across the West will continue to grow."
The BLM director and "other key leadership positions" will move back East where they can coordinate with other stakeholders and decision-makers in the capital. The agency says that other senior personnel will stay in the Colorado location.
Currently, the agency isn't going to require other employees to relocate. Already more than 95% of BLM employees are located outside of Washington, D.C., according to the agency.
The move back to nation's capital is part of a broader effort to rebuild the BLM workforce, the agency says.
At the time of the move, Trump administration officials said it was meant to bring officials closer to the land they manage.
Democratic appropriators at the time opposed the move, although Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and former Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) supported the move, as did Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.). Opponents said the change was meant to undermine the agency by pressuring longtime career officials living in the National Capital Region to quit.
Only 41 people of the 328 positions moved out of Washington, D.C., at the time moved, according to the agency.
"The past several years have been incredibly disruptive to the organization, to our public servants, and to their families," said Haaland. "As we move forward, my priority is to revitalize and rebuild the BLM so that it can meet the pressing challenges of our time, and to look out for our employees' well-being."