Interior secretary discusses problems with floodwaters, drought during visit to Denver

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DENVER (KDVR) — Department of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Tanya Trujillo, the department’s Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, are visiting Colorado this week as parts of the state battle a drought while other areas struggle with floodwaters.

Haaland touched on both issues during a stop in Denver on Thursday. She says other areas of the country are also dealing with similar issues and that the federal government is here to help.

“Today’s discussions mark an important moment in our collaborative work to address the ongoing water crisis, but I know there is so much more work to do,” Haaland said.

Drought conditions worsening

Trujillo says her agency and the Department of Agriculture are teaming up to tackle drought conditions that are getting worse, especially in the western part of the country.

“Climate change is real. We are seeing that throughout the West. We are seeing that here in Colorado,” Trujillo said. “Part of our goal today was to be able to hear directly from affected communities and affected water districts who are experiencing drought but also experiencing flooding.”

And while she was in town to talk about water in the state, those keeping an eye on the environment are asking the secretary to stay on top of other issues as well.

BLM headquarters location

Both leaders were also asked about the decision to move the headquarters for the Bureau of Land Management to Grand Junction. That decision was made by the Trump administration during Donald Trump’s tenure as president. The secretary says she wants to look into why the move was made but other stakeholders say it belongs here in Colorado.

“I’m glad she’s going out there to visit the headquarters,” said Kathleen Sgamma, President of the Western Energy Alliance. “Bottom line is BLM manages about 250 million acres of public lands, 98 percent of which is in the west. So it makes sense to have the headquarters out here in the west because the decisions BLM makes — whether it’s regarding oil and natural gas development or ranching or wildlife conservation — it affects people in the west much more directly.”

Sgamma and other stakeholders here were also concerned about her ability to lead the Bureau after her confirmation vote was spilt down the middle in committee before she was eventually confirmed by the full Senate. Secretary Haaland says she believes she brings experience and knowledge to the position.

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