Today is the day the Bureau of Land Management is supposed to begin working out of its new national headquarters at 760 Horizon Drive.
The Sentinel’s Dennis Webb has detailed all of the reasons why the headquarters relocation is controversial. There’s no assurance that this move will even stick, given ongoing efforts to overturn it.
At some point, the Government Accountability Office will release the results of an investigation into the move, conducted at the behest of U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.
Grijalva wants the GAO to determine if the move was properly planned and analyzed and will deliver the benefits the Trump administration is claiming. Conservation groups plan to drive that message home by protesting in front of the new headquarters this morning.
This isn’t the welcome we imagined when the idea to move the BLM west first took root. But it’s an important first lesson our new BLM neighbors need to understand about their new home. Public lands management inspires a lot of passion around here.
Let’s put politics and controversy aside for the moment and tell you, BLM headquarters staff, a little bit about this community.
First, we’re glad you’re here. Don’t let the protests discourage you. They’re taking a swipe at D.C. machinations, not you. Your arrival here is a big deal because it validates our efforts to diversify. We’ve spent a lot of time and energy thinking about how to attract high-paying jobs to the Grand Valley. We are in the midst of a transition from an extraction economy to something a little more well-rounded.
We’ve discovered that our proximity to public lands makes us a playground. We’ve always enjoyed hiking, dirt biking, skiing (both downhill and cross-country), mountain biking, rock climbing, rafting, hunting, fishing and snowmobiling. But in the last five years, we’ve learned that access to outdoor recreation is one of our most important economic development tools.
Our quality of life is far more attractive to prospective employers than a low tax burden or the prevailing wage. So, in addition to promoting outdoor recreation, we’ve worked hard on improving the “vibe” — good “field to fork” restaurants, microbreweries, arts and cultural events, concerts, festivals. We’re trying to turn a riverfront area on the Colorado River into something hip and fun.
This is a very giving community. There are tons of service clubs and nonprofits we hope you’ll consider affiliating with. It’s a great way to get to know your neighbors and put your fingers on the pulse of Western Colorado society.
We’re pretty casual around here. You won’t see a lot of suits and ties outside of courtrooms and churches.
Our schools are good. We want them to be great and we have some work to do to get more local taxpayer support of capital projects. We hope you can help stress the value of education.
Enjoy getting anywhere in Grand Junction in about 15 minutes and try not to laugh when you hear locals grumbling about “traffic.”
You may find that being surrounded by beautiful mountains, adjacent to the convergence of the two biggest rivers in the state gives you a perspective about public lands (and man’s relationship to them) that life inside the Capital Beltway could never offer.