Interior Department might pick Western headquarters for BLM in 8 months

DENVER — The trump administration says it might pick a new Western headquarters for the nation’s largest land management agency in the next six to eight months.

Susan Combs, a senior adviser to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, told a Senate committee Thursday that Zinke is committed to moving the Bureau of Land Management headquarters from Washington to the West. The bureau is part of Zinke’s department.

Combs offered no hints about where the new headquarters will be.

The bureau manages nearly 388,000 square miles nationwide, and 99 percent is in 12 Western states.

Many Western leaders say the bureau’s headquarters should be closer to the land it manages. Zinke, a former Montana congressman, agrees.

Republican Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner is a strong supporter of the potential move.

“Moving the BLM Headquarters West has been a top priority of mine in the Senate, and I was glad the Interior Department confirmed to me again – that they agree with my plan,” he said.

“Making this agency more accountable to the people who have to deal with its management decisions by putting its headquarters among the land it manages would be a great start to modernizing for the next 100 years.

“I’ll continue to make the case about why Colorado and the West is where this agency belongs.”

Some bureau veterans question the plan, saying the agency needs a presence in Washington.