Zinke’s Interior Dept. Is Moving Some Operations West

<p>(AP Photo/Alan Diaz)</p>
<p>U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.</p>
Photo: Ryan Zinke, Navy Seal Hat
U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Updated 4:30 p.m. -- The Department of Interior is planning to relocate part of its operations to the West. Colorado U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton first confirmed news of the decision, and by late Thursday both of Colorado's U.S. senators had joined Tipton in promoting the state as the possible headquarters.

Secretary Ryan Zinke is planning to move the Bureau of Land Management headquarters and Interior will be conducting analysis to help choose a location in the next 6 to 8 months, according to the 3rd District Republican congressman. Tipton said in a statement that DOI Senior Advisor Susan Combs confirmed the news to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“I commend Secretary Zinke for upholding his commitment to move BLM headquarters west,” said Tipton in a statement from his official House of Representatives website. “Nintey-nine percent of the land that the BLM manages is located in the West, and the decisions made by the Bureau have daily impacts on those who live there, so it only makes sense to move the headquarters to a western state. This would ensure that decisions would be made by those who understand the land best, resulting in more effective land management programs and policies.”

"I encourage the Department of the Interior to strongly consider Colorado’s 3rd District for the new BLM headquarters,” Tipton said. Colorado's 3rd district covers a large swath of the state, including the cites of Pueblo, to the south, and Grand Junction to the west. Tipton introduced a bill in the U.S. House in 2017 that directed DOI to offer a strategy for a move to the West.

One of the Colorado cities possibly in the running is Grand Junction. "More than anything it's just an affordable place to live, said Robin Brown of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership. "So if the BLM headquarters were to be out here their employees would be able to buy a home and really just face to face with the people whose livelihoods depend on the decisions they make since most of our economy is based on our public lands,"

"Moving the BLM Headquarters West has been a top priority of mine in the Senate, and I was glad the Interior Department confirmed to me again that they agree with my plan," GOP Sen. Cory Gardner said in a statement. "Making this agency more accountable to the people who have to deal with its management decisions by putting its headquarters among the land it manages would be a great start to modernizing for the next 100 years. I'll continue to make the case about why Colorado and the West is where this agency belongs."

Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet also backed to proposition of Colorado being home to the BLM.

“It is good to hear the Department of the Interior is upholding its commitment to move the BLM headquarters West,” Bennet said. “We look forward to working closely with the Department as it conducts its evaluation, and we re-extend our invitation to Secretary Zinke to visit Colorado to see for himself why there is no better home for the BLM headquarters. We must ensure this move is more than symbolic."

CPR's Xandra McMahon and Hart Van Denburg contributed to this story.