Horse News

Trump Administration is moving 49 BLM staffers to Reno. Nevada lawmakers don’t know why

by James DeHaven, Reno Gazette Journal

Lawmakers feel White House left them out of the loop

Is it a reorganization or a dismantling?

That’s the question increasingly puzzling western congressional delegates as President Donald Trump pushes ahead with an extensive shakeup at the Bureau of Land Management.

Palomino Valley BLM Wild Horse Holding Facility near Reno, NV ~ by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The administration’s plan, first debuted in July, would see 27 top administrators moved out of Washington D.C. to a new, smaller BLM headquarters in Grand Junction, Colo. Another 350 bureaucrats would be scattered around state offices in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Nevada.

Reno’s office, long home to BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro program, is slated to add 49 new positions, including four legislative affairs staffers — a job that typically calls for close contact with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Defenders say the changes will bring bureaucrats closer to those most affected by their decisions. Almost all of the roughly 250 million acres overseen by the agency is situated west of the Mississippi River.

But detractors fear the reorganization is merely a thinly veiled attempt to neuter the BLM by keeping key staffers far away from the levers of power in D.C.

Tensions between the two sides spiked during a Wednesday meeting of the House Natural Resources Committee, where Chairman Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., offered a scathing rebuke of Trump and acting BLM Director William Perry Pendley.

“This appears to be nothing more than a poorly-veiled attempt to dismantle a federal agency,” Grijalva said. He went on to characterize the reorganization as a “hastily planned, poorly researched and questionably motivated” attempt to “sell out our environment and natural resources.”

Pendley — a conservative lawyer and previously an outspoken advocate for selling the public lands he’s now charged with managing — told Grijalva he didn’t know how the move might affect employees or how many might be interested in relocating out West.

He estimated it would save taxpayers $90 million over 20 years, citing figures from the Office of Management and Budget.

That did not seem to put Grijalva at ease.

“Is there a national legislature forming in Reno that none of us here know about?” he asked, referring to the Reno-bound legislative affairs staffers. “Suspicions about this move abound, and they should, given the fact there’s been no transparency on it.”

U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., felt similarly frozen out.

Horsford, who sits with Grijalva on the Natural Resources committee, told the Reno Gazette Journal the reorganization plan was developed behind closed doors with minimal outside input from lawmakers.

“The plan is riddled with significant errors in judgement, ethical concerns and implications which the administration would prefer to ignore,” he said in a statement. “The administration’s move is a reminder of why Congress holds (the) power of the purse.

“Decisions impacting taxpayers must be made with consultation, collaboration, research, debate and compromise; things this administration’s decision lacks in nearly every regard.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, a vocal BLM critic whose district includes Reno, made it clear those concerns reach across party lines.

“I’d be more than happy to provide an in-depth analysis on the plans as soon as someone with the (Interior) Department finds time to give me a briefing on the issue,” Amodei said in a statement to the RGJ. “My office has yet to be briefed on DOI’s original department-wide relocation proposal since it was announced more than two years ago.”

The BLM’s Reno office did not immediately return requests for comment.

About two-thirds of Nevada’s 48 million acres is managed by the federal government.

The Trump administration hopes to complete its planned BLM revamp by the end of 2020.

13 replies »

  1. Among a great deal of other concerns, there is this:

    “He estimated it would save taxpayers $90 million over 20 years, citing figures from the Office of Management and Budget.”

    Realize that over 20 years, everything will cost more (including housing and water in NV), but that $90M is about what the current, widely criticized Wild Horse and Burro Program spends in a single year. While it sounds like a lot of money perhaps, it is chump change in the bigger picture. If I did the math right, this amounts to saving less than 30 cents per US citizen — after 20 years! (and our population will be larger, making that savings even less per US citizen). This from a program that charges us all $3-5/DAY for off-range holding of thousands of our supposed protected wild animals.

    Missing from this calculus is the costs to move people, and how much they will personally lose to keep their jobs. Just how much does a BLM Legislative Affairs staffer earn? Average BLM salary is ~$70,000 but most earn up to twice that:

    https://www.federalpay.org/employees/bureau-of-land-management

    It is impossible to justify moving staffers all over creation to save taxpayers such a pittance, and with such high efficiency losses. How much will just secure high-speed internet cost to keep NV staff “live” in DC, for instance? Bet it’s more than 30 cents each spread over 20 years.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Is this the human version of rounding up — removing — and warehousing those under the BLM’s management? Since the public pays for all this, are we now adopting public employees in some sense, as they are forever removed from their homes and (for some) families?

    Like

  3. Interior boss David Bernhardt touts regulatory reforms at Nevada gold mine

    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS |
    PUBLISHED: July 23, 2019

    ELKO, Nev.-U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt toured a Nevada gold mine’s expansion project Tuesday that he says was made easier by the Trump administration’s streamlining of environmental regulations to expedite permitting for commercial development on federal lands.
    The Colorado native also said some U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s workers are likely to end up in the rural northeast Nevada town of Elko as part of the agency’s plans to move its headquarters to Colorado next year.

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/08/02/trumps-plan-to-cut-the-public-out-of-public-lands-decisions/

    Like

  4. Age old question.”.Does Art imitate Life or does Life imitate Art?”..or something like that
    AVATAR resonated with the public in a way that was probably a bit alarming to those that had an agenda for OUR public lands and resources

    UNOBTANIUM

    Like

  5. It sure does Maggie. One could wonder if aliens have invaded our planet.and why is that native, indigenous species are targeted?
    It seems that wildlife on all continents are threatened by “policy makers” that are often appointed rather than elected

    Like

  6. WildLands Defense facebook

    Owyhee BLM under Idaho Director John Ruhs
    has proceeded to purposefully burn up and destroy ancient western juniper trees and forest stands all across Juniper Mountain. Earlier in the week I had sent BLM photos of the ancient trees and forest stands that had already been destroyed by burning patches here.
    Yesterday we went back out, and found fires ignited to torch ancient forests.

    Liked by 2 people

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