The Bureau of Land Management will shift its headquarters back to the nation’s capital less than a year after it relocated to Colorado under former President Donald Trump, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland told employees Friday.
While the main BLM office will return to Washington, D.C., the Grand Junction, Colo., office will expand and be the bureau’s designated Western headquarters.
Moving back to the capital is “imperative” to ensure the agency has access to the “policy-, budget-, and decision-making levers,” in Washington, D.C., Haaland said in a statement.
Haaland acknowledged that the past few years have been “incredibly disruptive” for the bureau’s employees and their families, and that she hopes to “revitalize and rebuild the BLM.”
The agency has no plans to require employees to relocate as part of the shift aside from key leadership positions, they said, and did not specify a timeline of when the move will be completed.
The Trump administration justified the move West of BLM headquarters by pointing out that 99% of public lands and programs in the U.S. are in the Western half of the country, but current and former employees told the Washington Post the move was also meant to weaken the bureau charged with managing leases for fossil fuel and mineral extraction on federal lands and assessing environmental threats. According to a Friday statement, the move West “failed to deliver” on the new jobs promised by the Trump administration, and instead drove out all but 41 people of the 328 who were slated to relocate from the bureau, with only three ending up in Grand Junction. The move resulted in “a significant loss of institutional memory and talent,” the agency said in Friday’s statement. The agency employs more than 7,000 people across the country, 95% of whom do not work in Washington, D.C.