County urges relocation of BLM headquarters to the Western Slope

By Annette Brand

County Commissioners Doug Atchley, Mark Roeber and Don Suppes recently sent a letter to Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Department of Interior.

They supported the secretary's efforts to reorganize the various agencies housed in the Department of Interior to achieve efficiency. They recommended engaging local stakeholders in a more meaningful fashion.

The commissioners expressed appreciation for Zinke's efforts to streamline the NEPA process. As a county which has endured numerous project delays due to extended NEPA review in a multi-jurisdictional project, the commissioners suggested Zinke designate a lead agency to conduct the necessary NEPA analysis.

They urged the secretary to consider the relocation of the national headquarters for the Bureau of Land Management to the Western Slope of Colorado, pointing out that Delta County is home to the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area and that Delta, Montrose and Mesa counties surround the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area.

The commissioners noted that both these National Conservation Areas had strong community support when they were put forward for congressional approval. All three counties continue to take an active role in the partnership of management.

With the BLM national headquarters located on the Western Slope these two National Conservation Areas would enable the National BLM to have a strong connection to the lands they manage and would provide easy access to transportation amenities located in the surrounding areas.