BLM ReRelocation

Just one of the many Trump Administration actions that the Biden Administration is trying to undo, but rebuilding the BLM will be more complicated than rewriting a regulation.  (Back then we were saying this.)

Two years after President Donald Trump decided to move the bureau’s headquarters to Grand Junction, a small city in the mountains of Colorado with no direct flight links with D.C., Biden plans to bring it back. But the agency remains severely depleted, according to interviews with more than 20 current and former Interior Department employees, hobbling the Biden administration’s work.

With the BLM, Interior Department leaders are now confronting a particularly daunting version of a task that is familiar in many corners of the federal bureaucracy: rebuilding institutions that Trump spent four years breaking down.

Trump “destroyed the effectiveness of the agency,” said a BLM employee, one of the 41 former headquarters staffers who relocated to Western posts. “Everything’s broken down.”

There are now situations in which an employee from Salt Lake City reports to a supervisor in Denver, who reports to a supervisor in Grand Junction, who reports to a supervisor in D.C., when previously all four of them were in the nation’s capital.

New people hired into headquarters positions often came from state agencies or were promoted from jobs in the field and are unfamiliar with the ways of Washington. Employees say budget discussions that once might have taken hours take days or weeks as new managers struggle to navigate unfamiliar terrain.

Haaland later said the “real cost” of the move was the loss of more than 200 “valued, experienced career employees who felt that they couldn’t uproot themselves the way the administration wanted them to.”

The impact on minority employees has been particularly stark.

The move decimated the ranks of the planning staff responsible for establishing multi-decade rules for how the country’s public lands can be used, including setting the balance between fossil fuel extraction and conservation. That division had more than 20 headquarters positions during Trump’s first year in office. Just four of those people remained after the move.

“It’s like they intensely wanted to create dysfunction in the agency. And they did. They succeeded in that.”

And so, Tracy Stone-Manning has been set up to fail, and we shouldn’t expect a whole lot for awhile from BLM’s plans for “a multiyear shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy on public lands.”

8 thoughts on “BLM ReRelocation”

  1. “There are now situations in which an employee from Salt Lake City reports to a supervisor in Denver, who reports to a supervisor in Grand Junction, who reports to a supervisor in D.C., when previously all four of them were in the nation’s capital.”

    3 out of 4 is pretty good.

  2. Sharon….

    Appreciate the comments, but having an eco-terrorist as Director makes no sense to me. I’ve had my family threatened by Ms. Stone Manning’s cohorts. I’m appalled that this administration would even consider nominating a domestic eco-terrorist for such a position.

    • Lyle,

      Myself, and many other conservationists, have also had ourselves and our families threatened by Trump and Pendley’s cohorts. Threats and violence have no place in public lands management, but let’s please not pretend that it’s a one-way street.

      Did you speak up and express your opposition to someone opposed to federal public lands (William Perry Pendley) running the Bureau of Land Management (illegally, it turns out) during the Trump administration?

      Also, didn’t you and I meet in Missoula one time during a wildfire conference about 20 years ago?

      • Lyle, that wasn’t me, that was Jon. First- to me it wasn’t a good idea to make people move. Especially when Covid made people work at home anyway.. so how would anyone know where they were? So I do not support that.

        At the same time, as a long-term WO minion, I have to say that DC people are no better or worse than people in the field… so losing some in the FS would not mean that the agency is decimated. In my own experience, people in the field in the FS often had DC experience and in my own searches the people willing to come to DC were few and far between.. so the selection pool was often reduced compared to positions in nicer, friendlier, cheaper parts of the country.

        I’ve also pointed out that in one of the reorganizing efforts the FS had, the WO Minerals shop moved to Denver. They liked it, we in Region 2 liked it a lot… I understand that they were only one of many WO shops but still.. I don’t think it’s black and white.

        Now my BLM friends have the argument that they need to be in DC to build relationships and schmooze. But I wonder how many really need to do that? Even as an AD for NEPA it would have been cheaper to have me live somewhere else and fly in for meetings with CEQ or DOJ. I think you’d really have to analyze the jobs to know for sure.

        To repeat, I think it was wrong to make people move. I think the higher level folks who interact with the politicals regularly and with Congress need to be there. I just don’t like the narrative that all the good people are gone. I think it disses the folks they are hiring now. Plus losing 200 people out of 10,000 destroyed it?

        It seems problematic that massive retirements by natural aging lead to “not destruction” in the FS; in fact, I wonder how many “natural” retirements there were in the BLM in the same period?

    • I think it would be a bad idea to combine the FS and BLM unless it was headed by a career employee. In my observations of Chief Moore, he has more knowledge and experience in his little finger (30 years of working) than she has in her entirety. There’s no comparison.

      Much more useful would be to go back to Service First, dual delegation, and harmonizing regulations, data collection, and so on. Starting with easy ones…grazing, FOIA and working up to NFMA/FLPMA.

  3. That ecoterrorists like Peabody and Arch Coal weren’t nationalized decades ago remains a mystery.

    Ms. Stone-Manning has called nearly every Trump era ruling “illegal” including its plans to manage feral horses and burros.

    Ironic that in a country that exports more weapons of mass destruction than all others combined and relentlessly hunts nearly anything that moves, in parts of the Mountain West and even in bright red Wyoming Equus ferus is still seen as a pet.

    • I agree w/ you that some big resource extraction companies are ecoterrorists! Why don’t we just boot them off of federal land?
      Can you believe that our mining law is so damn old and more than a little out of date?
      Yup, we’re the WMD supplier of choice!


Leave a Comment