The arguments for and against keeping the Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters in Grand Junction are well established.

Supporters of a western headquarters say the federal agency’s top executives should be physically close to BLM lands they administer, which are located almost exclusively west of the Mississippi River, while opponents say the BLM’s field offices already fulfill that function and that agency leaders needs to be close to policy makers and oversight committees in Washington, D.C. The most cynical contention is that the move was intended to dismantle the agency.

U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse brings a newish perspective to the matter, emphasizing how the BLM can play a role in the Biden administration’s climate agenda. Within a week of his January inauguration, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that took steps to align public lands management with his adminstration’s climate, conservation and clean energy goals.

“From historic wildfires, to record-breaking droughts, to water management challenges, the western United States has a front row seat to the impacts of climate change,” Neguse, D-Lafayette, said in a statement released Wednesday. That came on the heels of a letter he wrote to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, in which he voiced support for the headquarters to remain in Grand Junction and to be staffed adequately to ensure full operations.

Moreover, Neguse suggests there’s untapped synergy to be found in keeping the BLM out west.

“Home to many scientific experts and federal labs, Colorado is also a leader in climate solutions in the West. Maintaining the BLM headquarters in Grand Junction would tap into the knowledge and experience in these fields and provide agency employees with the opportunity to live, work, and recreate in the lands they manage.”

A bipartisan movement to keep BLM HQ in Junction

As the Sentinel’s Dennis Webb reported in Thursday’s paper, Mesa County officials regard Neguse’s support as critical. Neguse chairs the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Land — part of the House Natural Resources Committee chaired by Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., who has said the headquarters relocation appears to have been intended to cripple the BLM.

Neguse provides a counterbalance to that position. Regardless of motive, the BLM has already moved and Neguse is shining a light on the benefits of staying, staffing up and solving challenges that have an outsized impact on western states.

Mesa County Commissioner Scott McInnis was pleased to get Neguse’s support, noting that “he’s a member of the majority party and he knows the secretary very well.”

Neguse wrote his letter after consulting with community leaders this week and last. He’s the latest member of Colorado’s congressional delegation to endorse a “stay” position for the BLM. That includes Republican Reps. Lauren Boebert, Doug Lamborn and Ken Buck and Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper. Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, has also come out in support of the BLM headquarters staying in Grand Junction.

Neguse’s letter extended the obligatory invitation for Haaland to visit Colorado and the BLM headquarters here — an offer we hope she’ll accept soon as Interior seeks input from BLM employees on how to potentially revamp the headquarters to improve its function.

Creating a functional headquarters in Grand Junction, we think, is better than the alternative: moving back to D.C. and the well-established special interest lobbying environment, while creating even more impacts for employees who have stuck with the agency through a trying period — and who are just beginning to enjoy the quality of life afforded by a community that is dominated by federal land.