San Francisco Chronicle - (Sunday)

White House reverses Trump move of land agency

- By Matthew Daly Matthew Daly is an Associated Press writer.

WASHINGTON — Interior Secretary Deb Haaland is moving the national headquarte­rs of the Bureau of Land Management, which oversees 245 million acres in Western states, back to the nation’s capital after two years in Colorado.

The land management agency lost nearly 300 employees to retirement or resignatio­n after

President Donald Trump’s administra­tion moved its headquarte­rs to Grand Junction, Colo., in 2019.

The bureau has broad influence over energy developmen­t and agricultur­e in the West, managing public lands for uses ranging from fossil fuel extraction, renewable power developmen­t and grazing to recreation and wilderness. Its staffing has remained in turmoil after four years without a confirmed director.

The agency’s space in Grand Junction will become its western headquarte­rs, Haaland said. The Grand Junction office will reinforce Western perspectiv­es in decision-making and “have an important role to play in the bureau’s clean energy, outdoor recreation, conservati­on, and scientific missions,” the Interior Department said in a statement.

“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,” Haaland said.

“The past several years have been incredibly disruptive to the organizati­on, to our public servants and to their families,” Haaland said, referring to actions by her predecesso­rs, Ryan Zinke and David Bernhardt, to move the BLM to rural Colorado, sparking criticism that the Trump administra­tion intended to gut the agency that oversees vast tracts of public lands in the West.

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