As Colorado and the rest of the world focused on President Donald Trump’s Sunday tweet storm last week, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner won a quiet victory for Colorado and the West.
Gardner has fought since 2016 to move the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management out of Washington, D.C., and to Colorado — where it belongs. His vision came to fruition July 15, a day after Trump’s infamous tweets against the “Squad”, when the BLM announced plans to move to Grand Junction.
In all, about 80 BLM executives will relocate to Colorado — mostly to Grand Junction.
Gardner was not alone in making this happen, but he initiated and led the fight. He raised the idea during a Senate hearing in 2016 and never let it go. He mentioned it during every conversation he had with The Gazette’s editorial board, during town hall meetings and in meetings with President Trump.
We almost grew tired of his mantra: “Ninety-nine percent of the land the BLM manages is west of the Mississippi River, and so should be the BLM headquarters.”
He just never let it go. He loves Colorado and believed in this idea.
“Today is a historic day for our nation’s public lands, western states, and the people of Colorado,” Gardner said in a written statement. “Relocating the Bureau of Land Management to the Western Slope of Colorado will bring the bureau’s decision makers closer to the people they serve and the public lands they manage.”
Gardner’s crusade created a rare comradery among Colorado Democrats and Republicans, as they worked together toward the goal of dredging from the swamp what belongs in the West.
“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,” said Democratic Colorado Gov. Jared Polis in a written statement.
Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet teamed up with Gardner to urge then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to consider Grand Junction for the headquarters. “We can think of no better permanent home for the BLM headquarters than Grand Junction,” they wrote. “Moving the BLM closer to the land it manages and the people it serves ensures a bright future for the agency.”
Gardner believes politicians have concentrated far too much of our federal government in Washington, D.C., putting agencies and their employees out of touch with the rest of the country. We agree, and hope this victory for Colorado and public lands will be the first of many.
Let’s do more to decentralize the Food and Drug Administration, the FBI, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and more.
Let’s put the Department of Agriculture somewhere in the middle of farm country, where employees can get to know farmers and farmland.
In the meantime, let’s welcome BLM professionals to Colorado.
They won the geographic lottery, and should thank Sen. Gardner for years to come.