Colorado Reps. Lauren Boebert (CO-03), Doug Lamborn (CO-05), and Ken Buck (CO-03) called on Senators Hickenlooper and Bennet to do the right thing for Colorado by refusing to advance the nomination of Tracy Stone-Manning in order to receive a commitment from the administration to keep the Bureau of Land Management headquarters in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Rep. Boebert stated: “If the junior senator from Michigan can hold up eight Department of Defense nominations to secure a victory for his state, then one of Colorado’s two U.S. Senators can hold up the BLM Director nomination to secure a victory for Colorado. Senators Hickenlooper and Bennet have the power to stand up for Colorado and leverage the Biden administration into keeping the Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters and existing personnel spots in Grand Junction. I’ve appreciated their efforts and working with them on this bicameral and bipartisan effort. But based on comments from Secretary Halaand last week, the fate of the Bureau of Land Management headquarters in Colorado now rests on the shoulders of John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet. My hope is they will put Colorado first.”

Rep. Lamborn stated: “Before confirming any director, we must have assurances from the Biden Administration that they will keep the Bureau of Land Management in Grand Junction, where they can better serve the communities they support.  Land management decisions are best made by the people who have an innate understanding of the issues that affect these communities.”

Rep. Buck stated: “There is bipartisan agreement in Colorado’s congressional delegation that the Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters should stay in Grand Junction. Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper have been strong advocates for this, and I hope they place a hold on Stone-Manning’s nomination in order to keep the Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters there.”

Background:

Rep. Boebert was interviewed by the Colorado Springs Gazette editorial board and called on Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper to use their position in a 50-50 Senate to force a deal with the Biden administration in which they would refuse to advance the nomination of Tracy Stone-Manning in order to receive a commitment from the administration to keep the Bureau of Land Management headquarters in Grand Junction, Colorado. The Stone-Manning nomination is unable to advance without the full Senate’s approval, with Republicans unified in opposition, it only takes one Democrat to defect and defeat her nomination.

In December of 2017, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel called on Senator Gardner to use his “muscle to guard constituents’ interests…[and] demand certain assurances in exchange for his support of any measure.” Recently, Michigan U.S. Senator Gary Peters successfully used the hold process on several nominations to secure a commitment for his constituents from the Pentagon.   

Even though Tracy Stone-Manning threatened the lives of loggers and mill workers through her involvement in tree spiking, her nomination was considered by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources just last week.

Keeping the Bureau of Land Management in Grand Junction is an important bipartisan fight and Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper, Governor Jared Polis, and Rep. Joe Neguse have all pledged to stand up for Colorado. Time will tell if these are empty words or a true commitment to put Colorado first.

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 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 because of the relocation.

In January, Rep. Boebert led an effort supported by 23 Members of the House to ensure the Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters remains in Grand Junction, Colorado.

In February, Rep. Boebert joined Colorado Governor Jared Polis, U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, and local stakeholders in a bipartisan roundtable hosted by the Grand Junction Economic Partnership to discuss the importance of keeping the Bureau’s headquarters in Grand Junction.

In February, Rep. Boebert joined Colorado Governor Jared Polis, U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, and local stakeholders in a bipartisan roundtable hosted by the Grand Junction Economic Partnership to discuss the importance of keeping the Bureau’s headquarters in Grand Junction.

In March, Rep. Boebert, the Mesa County Commissioners, and the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce formally invited Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland to visit the Bureau of Land Management headquarters in Grand Junction, Colorado.

In April, Rep. Boebert joined Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Dan Newhouse (WA-04) for a roundtable discussion in Grand Junction with local stakeholders about the benefits of keeping the Bureau of Land Management headquarters in Grand Junction, Colorado.

In April, Rep. Boebert introduced the Local Opportunities and Conserving America’s Lands (LOCAL) Act to keep the agency’s headquarters out West. Additionally, the LOCAL Act directs the Department of the Interior to explore moving other land management positions to the West.

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