The sunshine was abundant — as was the genuine surprise and considerable amount of gratitude — at the Grand Junction Visitor Center on Monday, as city, county and various area economic development officials beamed about the startling but definitive news out of Sen. Cory Gardner's office earlier in the day.

"This is an exciting time for Mesa County, and I think this really puts us on the map," said County Commissioner Rose Pugliese, an ardent and active backer of the move.

"Making sure that the people who are making the decisions (about the county's abundant federal lands) also live in our community, and understand the economic impacts of their decisions, is very important to us," she said at the press conference.

"We welcome the BLM and their families to Colorado's Western Slope," said an elated Robin Brown, executive director with the Grand Junction Economic Partnership.

"We know that a lot goes in to these decisions, and are thrilled that the Department of Interior recognizes what we already know," Brown said. "That Grand Junction is the best location for the BLM headquarters."

"We are so thrilled that (Secretary Bernhardt) ultimately got the information he needed and could make a decision that we are all so pleased with today," said Bonnie Petersen, who lobbied Bernhardt on behalf of the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado.

Praise was similarly effusive for Sens. Gardner, R-Colo., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., as well as for Rep. Scott Tipton, all of whom were called instrumental in making the major move a reality.

Mesa County Commissioner Scott McInnis didn't want Monday's brief press conference to conclude without mentioning President Donald Trump, who he said brokered the bipartisan deal to make the move happen.

Brown, after the press conference, said that a small contingent of the agency's workforce is expected to move to Grand Junction in the fall, with more employees likely headed here next summer.

"We can support that," she said of the area's inventory of office space and administrative facilities that will be presumably necessary with the relocation.

As to all the pre-decision speculation that the lack of a direct flight to D.C. would ultimately sink a Grand Junction bid for the headquarters, Brown squashed it.

"We were never told that a direct flight was necessary," she said. "We have 30 flights a day with one connection to the D.C. area, and they were satisfied with that."

Brown had hoped that Grand Junction would land the BLM national headquarters, and she helped lead the community effort to work to that end, but she knew there was only so much the community could do.

"I'm thrilled because I know a lot goes into these decisions. A part of it feels like a lot more goes into it than just making the case for the BLM to go to Grand Junction," she said earlier in the day.

She and others recognized that politics were in play as the BLM decision was being considered.

"I think we were hopeful but I think we recognized that (the matter) wasn't entirely in our own hands," she said.

Given everything that the federal government had to consider in making its decision, she's excited that it recognized how much sense it made to have the headquarters in Grand Junction.

"For it to come out this way, it reaffirms the work we're doing," she said.

Pugliese agreed: "And just the opportunity right now of showcasing Mesa County and the Western Slope to people all over the country I think is really worthwhile for all of us."

She said local boosters of the relocation idea were always optimistic they could sell the area's quality of life and other attributes to the BLM and its employees.

"This is obviously not one person. This was a team effort and I'm really glad to see our community coming together and all pushing in the same direction for the betterment of our community," she said.

Pugliese has traveled to Washington, D.C., multiple times to make the county's views known to national-level federal officials. Now, she said, she may in some cases be able "to have these conversations right here in Grand Junction."

As for what's next for Grand Junction, Brown said, "We have a number of irons in the fire. I'm hoping that this is just the beginning of many exciting announcements even before the end of the year and for years to come."

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