Earlier today, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) announced via a video on Twitter that the Bureau of Land Management will be moving its headquarters to Grand Junction.
The move has garnered rare bi-partisan support across Colorado.
But not everybody agrees that this is a good development for the BLM or the people who depend on it. Furthermore, some feel Grand Junction may not be as prime a locale for a federal headquarters as advocates for the move would say.
A Dissenting Voice
Prof. Patty Limerick, who heads the University of Colorado Boulder’s Center for the American West, saw little good coming from the possibility of the BLM leaving D.C. as the idea floated around last month.
“There’s no particular advantage to having a headquarters in the American West if your concern is being accessible and close to the people who are concerned about public lands,” she said.
For her, the defining quality of the rural west is its isolation. Most towns with strong economic ties to BLM land are far from everything – including other isolated western locales like Grand Junction.
Grand Junction’s small airport was another concern of hers.
“For better or worse – and there’s certainly better and worse,” Limerick said, “Washington D.C. as the center of the federal government does mean there’s lots of flights.
“There are few of those services at airports like Grand Junction,” she said. “In fact, it’s kind of dramatic how much harder it is to get a flight… at smaller airports.”
But Diane Schwenke, the CEO and president of Grand Junction’s Chamber of Commerce, felt differently.
She characterized the concern over air service as “something that’s fairly easily overcome,” as the increased demand for travel to D.C. would eventually lead to more direct flights between Grand Junction and the capitol.
Colorado at large seems to be celebrating the development.
“This is a victory for local communities, advocates for public lands, and proponents for a more responsible and accountable federal government,” Gardner said.
The mood was jovial on the other side of the aisle as well.
“We are thrilled to welcome the Bureau of Land Management… to the great state of Colorado,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement Monday afternoon.
He said “Grand Junction is the perfect location for the BLM because of community support, location closer to the land BLM manages and the positive impact it will have on our western Colorado economy.”