As BLM Moves To The Western Slope, Some Colorado Lawmakers Urge Parks And Wildlife To Follow

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
The arid Book Cliffs dominate the view from Palisade and Grand Junction. The highest point on the iconic geologic formation is Mt. Garfield. This photo was made in October looking across freshly cut hayfields from G Road.

Republican state Rep. Matt Soper of Delta wants to relocate the headquarters of Colorado Parks and Wildlife to the Western Slope.

He thinks that with the Bureau of Land Management moving to Grand Junction, the state agency should follow their lead. It’s a change he said would help Western Colorado catch up with a thriving economy in the rest of the state.

“By moving state jobs out West it would really help with rural economic development,” Soper said. “If Grand Junction is successful economically, the spillover effect is felt by places like Delta or Glenwood or Meeker or Fruita or Palisade or Colburn. The ripple effects are just immense.”

Soper also said that moving those employees to Grand Junction just makes sense.

“What I would possibly envision is taking advantage of the BLM move to have some sort of a joint federal-state land managers campus,” he said. “And it could be such that it would actually end up saving the state in the long run.

He cited less expensive building leases and lowered cost-of-living expenses for state employees as some of the cost savings.

Soper discussed the idea with Gov. Jared Polis at a dinner last week. After getting the go-ahead to meet with the head of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Dan Prenzlow. All three sat down Wednesday to talk about the possibility of a move.

The governor expressed concerns about the cost of moving CPW’s two downtown Denver offices, but Soper said Polis was open to the idea of what a combined campus with the BLM could mean for Colorado financially and in terms of collaboration with the federal government.

The governor’s office also released a statement on Thursday:

“Colorado Parks and Wildlife has robust regional and area offices throughout the state, including 65 staff located in Mesa County alone and managing parks and wildlife with counties in all corners of the state. The Governor is interested in working with legislators of both parties to provide equitable services to all Coloradans and save taxpayer money and increase efficiency, and welcomes Rep. Soper to look at the costs and benefits of such a move.”