More than half of the U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Washington, D.C. staff have quit rather than accept transfers to Colorado and other western states to be closer to the lands they manage.
“New internal numbers from the Interior Department obtained by The Hill show 69 employees have left the agency rather than accept the new assignment,” reports The Hill. “Another 18 left after the plans were announced but before they could be reassigned. Those 87 employees outnumber the 80 who have agreed to the move.”
Living Near Lands They Oversee
The move is part of a Trump administration initiative to place regulatory agencies closer to the people they are supposed to serve. Most of America’s federal lands, including almost all of the lands managed by BLM, are in the mountains, deserts, and prairies of Western states.
The BLM should always have been located in the western United States, said Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), in a July 31, 2019 statement on the Senate floor when BLM first proposed the move.
“The federal government owns roughly 47 percent of this land out West … where 93 percent of the federal land is located,” Gardner said. “The Bureau of Land Management is responsible for managing … 245 million acres [of] … federal surface lands. All but 100,000 acres of those surface acres … are west of the Mississippi River and located predominantly in the eleven westernmost states and Alaska.
“It’s never made sense for leadership to work 2,000 miles away from these states, insulated by the inevitably different perspectives of life inside the Beltway,” Gardner said. “When you don’t live in the communities that are among and surrounded by these lands, it’s easy to make decisions that close off energy development or close cattle ranches and grazing opportunities, because the consequences are felt out West instead of in Washington, D.C.”
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior fellow at The Heartland Institute.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO): https://www.gardner.senate.gov/; https://www.gardner.senate.gov/contact-cory/email-cory