Part of what they need, she explained, is clarity, without having to worry that things at the agency could keep changing drastically with future administrations.
She added that she remains “open to the idea that Grand Junction can and will play a significant role in BLM’s future,” and that the question of what that actually looks like must be answered soon.
Gov. Jared Polis underscored the importance of timeliness in making a decision, especially with so many vacant positions in the agency still needing to be filled.
“I think a lot of people are hesitant to apply for jobs because they don’t want to have to move to D.C. or somewhere else a year or two later,” he said.
Polis said he believed that many potential employees would be “thrilled” to help grow out the headquarters in Grand Junction, once they knew the move was permanent.
U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, the area’s congresswoman and the sole Republican at the press conference, made a money argument for keeping the BLM in Grand Junction, noting the cost would be “tremendous” to move the headquarters back to D.C. She also said that she’s spoken with many BLM employees who want to stay in Grand Junction.
“We are going to work hard to make sure their voice is heard in that and make sure that the lands that we all recreate on and live on and interact with on a daily basis are represented well,” Boebert said. “And that starts with having the Bureau here so we can effectively represent our Western lands.”
Haaland’s multi-day trip through Colorado started Thursday in Denver, with a focus on water policy, and will wrap up in Ridgway Saturday, where she will talk about outdoor recreation. She also plans to meet with tribal leaders for their perspective on the BLM.
Her hope, she explained, is to take everything she’s heard, everything she’s learned on the trip, “and put it all together and just sit down and make the best decisions.”
And while nearly every question Haaland received was about the future of the BLM, the original intent of the press conference was to discuss the threat of wildfires and climate change across the West.