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Bureau of Land Management to move headquarters from DC to Colorado

Source:  The Hill

BY MIRANDA GREEN AND REBECCA BEITSCH

The Trump administration plans to relocate the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from Washington, D.C., to Colorado, according to two lawmakers.

The reorganization, first considered under former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, is aimed at putting more agency officials closer to the lands they manage out West, though critics have questioned moving tenured policy officials far from the nation’s capital.

Currently only about 4 percent of BLM employees live in D.C., but the proposal would shrink that number even further, leaving just 60 of the nearly 400 BLM employees in the nation’s capital, according to a letterfrom Interior to a Republican lawmaker dated Tuesday, obtained by The Hill.

Just 27 employees will be moved to the new headquarters in Grand Junction, Colo., with the rest divided among the western states of Utah, Nevada and other existing local offices, according to the document.

Since BLM has nearly 10,000 employees, the reorganization plans would effectively move the agency entirely out of D.C.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R) confirmed the headquarters move on Monday, calling it a “significant win” for his state.

“This means that people will be able to have greater say, greater impact on public lands decisions that affect their community,” Gardner said in a video he tweeted.

“This is an effort I started years ago under the Obama administration so that we could have the policymakers in Washington closer to the people that are most impacted by the decisions that Washington makes.”

The Department of Interior, which oversees BLM, did not respond to requests for comment or details about the plan. The agency is expected to make an announcement later Tuesday.

Democratic lawmakers criticized the administration for failing to alert them earlier of the planned move, which is expected to affect BLM managers and other agency officials.

“This administration has been handing over public lands to fossil fuel companies at record speed, and this move is part of that agenda. Putting BLM headquarters down the road from Secretary Bernhardt’s home town just makes it easier for special interests to walk in the door demanding favors without congressional oversight or accountability,” Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement.

“The BLM officials based in Washington are here to work directly with Congress and their federal colleagues, and that function is going to take a permanent hit if this move goes forward. The agency will lose a lot of good people because of this move, and I suspect that’s the administration’s real goal here.”

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt often failed to provide any details about the move when pushed by lawmakers, typically saying the decision began under Zinke and was still being reviewed. Bernhardt is originally from Rifle, Colo., about 60 miles east of Grand Junction.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

18 replies »

    • Why? The BLM administered lands are very few on the border, and those are mostly in New Mexico. It would serve almost nobody, and least of all the public, to move their headquarters to the Mexican border. For the focus of this website, there are only two wild horse HMAs in all of NM, with an AML of only around 100, and neither are on the border.

      Like

  1. The Border Patrol needs help to fight the drug cartels

    THE WALL

    David Shaw is Unzueta’s successor at Homeland Security Investigations. The unit investigates cross-border crimes such as human trafficking, money laundering and drug smuggling.

    Cartels “operate like a business,” Shaw says. “If you put up one wall, they find a way to get around it.”
    We probably lead the nation as far as smuggling attempts from aliens and narcotics, so we are very dynamic and very busy,” says Acting Port Director Robert Hood.

    If a wall is built, don’t expect it – or the Border Patrol – to stop the flow of drugs.

    A group of about 50 border patrol agents, mostly former military, patrol an area that’s larger than the state of Connecticut but has no roads and only a handful of visual landmarks.

    “They are going so far out of our area of operations that we can’t even cover that area,” says Kurt Nagel, a marine interceptor for Customs and Border Protection’s air and sea patrol. “We are trying to set up task forces in San Francisco to give us a hand. … Right now with how far they are going, we can’t keep up.”

    https://www.usatoday.com/border-wall/story/drug-trafficking-smuggling-cartels-tunnels/559814001/

    Like

    • IcySpots, because they could be helping the Border Patrol which is in dire need of back-up in the battle against drug cartels…better use of man-power and resources than guarding American citizens who are trying to witness and document roundups. Better use of their hired helicopter pilots as well.

      Like

      • Another example
        2012
        BLM Arrests Two Citizens During Contested Arizona Wild Burro Stampede
        By Sonu Wasu of Tucson News Now
        “A COUPLE OF THEM SEIZED MY ARMS, IT SEEMED LIKE THEY WANTED TO BREAK MY ARMS,”

        TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) – Two people were arrested during a burro roundup taking place in the Cibola Trigo herd management area, 20 miles outside of Yuma.

        An independent journalist and a woman in her 70’s who was observing the event were taken into custody by BLM officials.
        It happened on Sunday afternoon. Here is a statement about the incident released to Tucson News Now by a BLM spokeswoman from the Arizona state office.
        “On June 10, 2012, two public observers were contacted by BLM Law Enforcement Rangers outside the designated viewing area. One of the individuals (MROZEK-MALE) had been previously asked on numerous occasions to leave the viewing area based on his failure to comply with instructions from law enforcement officers. The other individual (HAYDEN-FEMALE), who was in a restricted area, was asked repeatedly to move to the designated viewing area, for her safety and the safety of those involved in the gather operations, and she refused to comply. Rangers had to make physical contact with both individuals to gain compliance. Both individuals were detained pending charges. Both individuals were placed in air conditioned law enforcement vehicles. Both individuals requested medical attention. Ambulances were called at their request. One individual was transported by ambulance. One individual was evaluated and released at the scene. Charges are pending against both individuals.”

        Carl Mrozek spoke to Tucson News Now about the arrest. Mrozek was there to film a documentary about burros. It started out as in interest in the animal, but the interest grew as he observed roundups taking place throughout the country, and noticed the numbers of burros out in the wild rapidly declining.
        He kept asking them if he was being arrested. He said the men said they did not know, and told him to “just relax.”
        “I felt like the burro. I had no rights. I was under the control of the posse of men with machines and guns. I felt like one of the burros,” said Mrozek.
        He said the officials then put him in the back of a pick-up truck, he was crouched in a back seat with his hands still cuffed behind his back.
        Mrozek said he sat there for a long time. He says it was over an hour, when he started to feel hot and faint.
        “I started feeling light headed and fainted. At one point when I woke up I had trouble breathing. My circulation was bad. It was 103 degrees outside, we were parked in the sun for over an hour. It was unpleasant, very unpleasant.

        https://rtfitchauthor.com/2012/06/15/blm-arrests-two-citizens-during-contested-arizona-wild-burro-stampede/

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s not their job, nor their territory. They can barely cover what they need to already so I would oppose sending them elsewhere to help other unrelated agencies. If the need is sufficient they should send the National Guard.

        Like

      • IcySpots, I think the public lands would be safer without the BLM judging by the agencies track record. Merging the General Land Office with the Grazing Service has pretty well defined the BLM’s mission from the get-go. There was also, under Salazar, an attempt to merge the BLM with the Department of Land and Minerals Management. We’re seeing that happen right now under Bernhardt.

        Liked by 1 person

      • There had better be some Whistleblowing…a LOT of it. Everyone in these agencies should have a whistle. These agencies need cleaned up and cleaned out ASAP and they need to start PROTECTING our public lands rather than allowing them to be pillaged.

        This agenda is already on the drawing board

        Interior Department border deployments are mired in secrecy
        By Jessica Kutz on Jun 1, 2019

        This story was originally published by High Country News and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration

        “A separate FOIA request to the National Park Service shows that between May 2018, when the border surge program started, and mid-February of this year, the agency has had to spend more than $1.7 million on the deployments. This amount does not include money allocated to send officers from the Bureau of Land Management or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to the Borderlands”
        In southern Nevada, where the Mojave meets the Great Basin Desert, two U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement officers are responsible for patrolling the entire Desert National Wildlife Refuge complex. Their job comes with a diverse set of responsibilities: enforcing hunting and fishing regulations, stopping park vandalism, and rescuing stranded visitors, among other things. At 1.6 million acres, this is the largest wildlife refuge in the country outside of Alaska, home to over 500 plant species and the desert bighorn sheep, Nevada’s state animal. So why are these two officers being sent hundreds of miles away from the refuge on rotating missions to the U.S.-Mexico Border?
        Their deployment is part of a pilot program launched in May of 2018 under then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, described as a “surge operation” meant to help with border security. “President Trump and I are 100 percent committed to keeping our border communities and the American people safe and secure,” Zinke said at the time. Twenty-two law enforcement officers were sent to federally managed public lands along the border, including Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona and Amistad National Recreation Area in Texas.
        So far, the department has been tight-lipped about the program’s details, including the cost of deployments, the work being done and any future plans. At the beginning of this year, High Country News filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to find out more about its effectiveness. Interior’s move appeared to be part of a pattern of similar deployments of National Guard and military personnel, whose recent efforts to reinforce the U.S.-Mexico border with concertina wire at the U.S.

        The program continues to grow, but oversight is lacking. On May 15, it was reported by The Hill that 47 Interior Department officers were currently assigned to the border — more than twice the previous number.

        https://grist.org/article/interior-department-border-deployments-are-mired-in-secrecy/

        Like

  2. Our “estimable” Cory Gardner is taking credit for, um, about 27 jobs in Grand Junction. Utah’s Bob Bishop would bring more jobs to Utah, it seems, should this proposed move pass the House.

    “The U.S. Department of the Interior made it official Tuesday: It plans to move its Bureau of Land Management headquarters to Grand Junction. But that means only about 85 more BLM employees in Colorado.

    Grand Junction could gain as few as 27 — the BLM director, deputy director of operations, assistant directors “and a few selected members of their staffs,” says a Tuesday letter by BLM Assistant Secretary Joseph R. Balash. …

    The move requires congressional approval, and the Democrat-led House is expected to be a tougher sell than the Senate, with its GOP majority.

    So the move could hinge on whether President Donald Trump wins a second term, Republicans retake the House and maintain their majority in the Senate.

    Gardner, a strong advocate for the move, is a prime target for Democrats. He represents a state where Trump lost in 2016 and remains unpopular here. …

    “Colorado has a diverse number of resource needs, ranging from minerals to recreation, while also serving as a hub for the Bureau’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) projects and priorities,” the BLM letter said. “As such, positions from nearly every directorate will be located in the Lakewood offices.”

    BLM employs about 9,260 workers scattered across field offices mostly in the West. Besides Colorado, about 50 positions each would move to field offices in Utah and Nevada, said Sen. Rob Bishop, a Republican who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee.”

    https://gazette.com/news/blm-headquarters-move-to-colorado-would-add-about-workers/article_8ff4605e-0c49-5b03-9178-6ea5770234b9.html#tncms-source=infinity-scroll-summary-siderail-next

    Gardner’s term is about up, too:

    “Gardner ranks as the most vulnerable Republican senator up for election next year, according to just about every available metric. He’s one of two GOP incumbents seeking re-election in a state won by Hillary Clinton — Maine’s Susan Collins is the other.

    And his support even among Republicans is soft, with a fresh poll showing just 63% of Colorado’s GOP voters hold a favorable opinion of him, compared to 90% who view President Donald Trump favorably.”

    https://gazette.com/elections/cory-gardner-does-he-have-a-path-to-victory-in/article_41fcc0e6-a33b-11e9-bcb5-f34e105adeb7.html

    Like

  3. “With conflict-ridden ex-mega lobbyist David Bernhardt running the show at Interior, motives behind this move are dubious at best. Bernhardt and his team of political cronies have proven over and over again that their preset agenda focuses on sweetheart deals for industry and special interests at the expense of our nation’s public lands. This move will waste more tax dollars and allow more political meddling by Trump’s conflicted appointees into decisions impacting public lands and wildlife.”

    Background on BLM reorganization and relocation:

    Bernhardt failed to consult with Congress about the relocation. Interior already spent some $14 million on the reorganization and relocation proposal and has requested an additional $27 million that has not been allocated.

    The Western Governors Association (WGA) criticized Interior for not consulting governors on proposed plans to restructure and relocate the Bureau of Land Management.

    Most BLM staff are already located in state offices out West while only a small group of experts are based in D.C. The fact is that 94% of BLM employees are already based within the states they serve.

    Bernhardt isn’t reorganizing and relocating BLM to get more input from the West; he’s pushing the BLM to the states to limit the input of key leaders, scientists and other career employees. Bernhardt has even said that only a fraction of the only 500 employees at headquarters may move to the West.

    There are more than a dozen agencies that have partial jurisdiction over our public lands, such as the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Energy, Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, National Park Service, Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and others. Failure to maintain BLM HQ staff in D.C. will result in the exclusion of these key leaders on important and real-time discussions and decisions.”

    https://westernvaluesproject.org/interior-secretary-bernhardts-bureau-of-land-management-relocation-blunder/

    Liked by 1 person

  4. From COUNTERPUNCH

    Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic and the Need for a New Approach to Managing Wildlife (excerpts)
    by LOUISA WILLCOX
    APRIL 19, 2019

    He saw that the challenges facing wildlife were not only scientific, but also spiritual, moral, economic, and institutional in nature. At the time, the field of wildlife management did not exist. Indeed, he would become the first professor in the country to teach what was then called “game management.” The field has since become so specialized and technical that students today might also be surprised that its father had exhorted those in the profession to also be well-rounded human beings able to “marry science and the arts.”

    Leopold clearly saw the need for a national constituency to protect nature. If left to their own devises, self-serving and parochial locals would spell the end of wilderness and wildlife. Even though a committed meat hunter, Leopold worked with many who were not. Indeed, his last public talk was not to hunters but to the Garden Club of America. One of his most powerful, lasting messages was this: wildlife does not belong to the wealthy or any single special-interest group, but to all of us.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A few more excerpts and link to above article
    https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/04/19/aldo-leopolds-land-ethic-and-the-need-for-a-new-approach-to-managing-wildlife/

    Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic and the Need for a New Approach to Managing Wildlife (excerpts)
    by LOUISA WILLCOX
    APRIL 19, 2019

    But Traditionalists are hardly going gently into that good night, especially trophy hunting groups such as Safari Club International (SCI), NRA, and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF).

    It should be no surprise that the RMEF, SCI, and similarly regressive states of Wyoming and Idaho have been leading the charge to remove federal ESA protections for grizzlies throughout the northern Rockies and institute a trophy hunt, as they did with wolves.

    In 2003, I attended an SCI annual convention in Reno, Nevada, where I encountered near 20,000 members swimming in a figurative sea of trophies – giraffes, hippos, grizzlies, and wives – the last of which sported breasts that were similarly stuffed. Music throbbed and huge screens above streamed images of colorful Amazonian “sportfish,” cheetahs chasing gazelles, and charging Cape buffalo. Below, the floor was strewn with their dead stuffed bodies, along with booths selling military-grade weaponry.
    Without big breasts, big hair, and big jewelry, I was all but invisible in the swaggering crowd

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This lawyerprofessor puts his finger right on the problem
    C-SPAN VIDEO Q&A With Benjamin Ginsberg

    Professor Benjamin Ginsberg talked about What Washington Gets Wrong: The Unelected Officials Who Actually Run the Government and Their Misconceptions about the American People. For this book he and his co-author surveyed White House staff, federal agency officials, and the employees at policy-making agencies on their attitudes toward the people they serve. Professor Ginsberg began this interview by telling a story of a conversation he had at a dinner party with a senior-level government official in which she expressed her impression of typical Americans. Among other topics he also discussed his belief in the importance of cynicism; politicians’ use of language; how federal rules and regulations are promulgated; his childhood growing up in Chicago; and how is interest in bureaucracy developed

    https://www.c-span.org/video/?419699-1/qa-benjamin-ginsberg

    Like

  7. Washington’s governing elites think we’re all morons, a new study says

    By Alex Thompson Sep 30, 2016

    Voters are angry at the political establishment and the political establishment doesn’t much care for the voters either. In fact, they think voters are pretty damn stupid.
    That’s the conclusion of a new survey of America’s unelected governing elites by political scientists at Johns Hopkins University. While media outlets endlessly poll and probe the American people to understand why they feel so disenchanted with their government, Professor Benjamin Ginsberg and Senior Lecturer Jennifer Bachner instead looked at America’s political ruling class for answers. The federal bureaucrats, think tank leaders, and congressional staff members they surveyed, Ginsberg said in an interview with VICE News, “have no idea what Americans think and they don’t care. They think Americans are stupid and should do what they are told.”
    It seems that the disenchantment is mu

    https://news.vice.com/en_us/article/kz9vgz/washingtons-governing-elites-think-were-all-morons-a-new-study-says

    Like

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