Secretary Haaland plans to strengthen BLM presence

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Deb Haaland

FILE – In this April 23, 2021, file photo, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland speaks during a news briefing at the White House in Washington. U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland is a married woman. Melissa Schwartz, an Interior Department spokeswoman, confirmed Haaland and longtime partner Skip Sayre wed Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021, in New Mexico.(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

WASHINGTON — Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said that the department plans to rebuild and strengthen the presence of the Bureau of Land Management.

These changes, which will be done in coordination with Congress, will improve the function of the bureau, assist BLM’s over 7,000 employees across the U.S., maintain and increase access for stakeholders and will better help the bureau serve the public.

In a meeting with BLM employees, Secretary Haaland said that she plans to restore the bureau’s presence in Washington, D.C. and expand its presence in Grand Junction, Colo. The Colorado-based office will reinforce western perspectives in decision-making and will impact policies on clean energy, outdoor recreation, conservation, scientific missions and other critical aspects.

“The Bureau of Land Management is critical to the nation’s efforts to address the climate crisis, expand public access to our public lands, and preserve our nation’s shared outdoor heritage,” said Secretary Haaland. “There’s no doubt that the BLM should have a leadership presence in Washington, D.C. – like all the other land management agencies – to ensure that it has access to the policy-, budget-, and decision-making levers to best carry out its mission.”

Secretary Haaland added that she looks forward to working with indigenous tribes, Congress and other stakeholders who are in charge of public land use.

The Department said that it plans to place the Bureau Director and other key leaders positions in the national headquarters with other senior personnel operating from the Colorado Western base.

The Secretary’s vision for the BLM comes after substantive engagement with employees, Tribal consultations, and meetings with local, state, and federal leaders.

The Department will also be establishing a new BLM Foundation to support the bureau’s efforts and build new partnerships with Tribal liaisons. Clean energy policies will also be a central focus.

The Trump administration relocated the BLM headquarters to Grand Junction, Colo., a move that failed to deliver promised jobs across the West and drove hundreds of people out of the agency. Of the 328 positions moved out of Washington, D.C., only 41 of the affected people relocated, with 3 moving to Grand Junction.

This headquarters transition will be conducted with the goal of minimizing further disruption to employees and their families. Outside of the aforementioned core leadership positions, the BLM does not plan to require employees to relocate.

To learn more about BLM, click here.

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