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Plans to Move the Bureau of Land Management Headquarters West Raise Questions

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Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area spans 210,000 acres south of Grand Junction, Colorado.

Since the Trump administration confirmed on Tuesday the plan to relocate most of the Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters staff to the West, more questions have been raised as to whether the move is cost-effective and in the agency’s best interest.

In a letter that went out to lawmakers, the Department of the Interior (which oversees the BLM) laid out a plan to move nearly 300 BLM staffers out of D.C. to a new headquarters in Grand Junction, Colorado, and other regional offices in states including Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

The letter announcing the plan focused on the potential cost-saving benefits of the move. Joe Balash, the DOI’s assistant secretary for land and minerals, described how the move will save an estimated $50 million in taxpayer money over the next 20 years. Those saving will come from reduced travel costs, lowered salaries to match the reduced cost of living in areas like Grand Junction, and less expensive office space. Current BLM office space in Washington, D.C., is reportedly $50 per square foot and likely to increase once the BLM’s main lease expires in 2020. That’s compared to an estimated $32.35 per square foot for office space in Grand Junction.

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