Bureau of Land Management Lost Diversity Coming to Colorado | Joey Bunch | Subscriber content

Diversity has never been Grand Junction’s long suit. We knew that two years ago, but no one wanted to say anything when the Trump administration moved the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management to Colorado.

It was a daisy. The agency controls more than 245 million acres in 12 states, including 8.3 million surface acres in Colorado, another 27 million mineral rights and leases, as well as recreational de little snake at the Royal Gorges.

Add to it protected pastures, woods, panoramas and species, and the BLM is the guardian of our national treasure and will be for generations to come, as it has been doing since 1946.

The Biden administration is seeking to move BLM’s headquarters to DC, taking over some jobs and ownership.

Last Friday the The Washington Post reported that the Western maneuver crushed half of BLM’s black workforce, which was only 3.5% before jobs were uprooted and transplanted 1,900 miles into the shadow of the Grand Mesa.

Three years ago, when the idea was gaining ground, I hiked in rocky mountain national park with Ryan Zinke, Trump’s First Home Secretary, to discuss the potential headquarters move to Colorado. Diversity among stewards has never been addressed.

Geographically, the move has since been made. In all other cases, it was not.

“If you are a military commander, it makes sense to place your headquarters next to combat,” the former Navy SEAL told me during a climb, months before he was embroiled in scandals without. report that cost him his government job. Perhaps he sympathized with those in Washington, DC, who were also to be ousted from their jobs.

So-Sen. Cory Gardner, an Eastern Plains Republican, hoped that marking the headquarters would shine his green bona fides to win a second term, which was unsuccessful. Yet, at the same time, our Senior Democratic Senator Michael Bennet was deeply involved in it. Governor Jared Polis, Democratic as they come, was also on board.

“We are delighted to welcome the Bureau of Land Management and their employees to the great state of Colorado,” the governor said 28 months ago during the official ceremony. “As I have repeatedly stated to Secretary (David) Bernhardt, Grand Junction is the ideal location for the BLM because of the community support, the location closer to the lands managed by the BLM and the positive impact it will have on our economy in western Colorado. “

He added: “It’s hard to think of a better place to house the department responsible for the surveillance of our beloved public lands. “

Not everyone was nearsighted. Specifically, Scott Braden, the director of Colorado Wildlands Project, who in July helped build a coalition of conservation groups and recreation industry types to try to restore the agency that was ruffled in the Rockies.

“The last administration left us with a damaged and demoralized agency, and we must rebuild,” Braden and Co. wrote to Biden Home Secretary Deb Haaland. “We believe there is a win-win solution for the BLM and for Colorado that involves maintaining both a national headquarters in Washington DC and a prominent Western office in Grand Junction, where some executives of the agency would be based. “

Gardner’s position terribly aged, now knowing the toll it has taken on BLM’s employees of color, especially the top executives who are most needed and valued.

“Washington is infested with special interests,” Gardner said two years ago when the deal was struck. “You mean BLM is isolated from this?” They are infested. “

This collapse was predictable for those who bothered to watch.

Mesa County is home to about 155,000 Colorado residents, and Grand Junction has just 59,000 residents, slightly less than Castle Rock.

Grand Junction is 90% white and 0.64% black, based on county’s own count.

Metro Washington, DC is home to 6.3 million people, which is more than our state as a whole, with 45% white, 25% black, 16% Hispanic, and 10% Asian.

This is what diversity looks like. This is also what attracting a thriving workforce and a culturally rich community looks like.

In June, the Washington subway had an unemployment rate of 5.4%. In Mesa County that month? Try 8%.

Mesa County is a wonderful place to live, work and visit, without a doubt. As representative government, BLM has fences to repair and bridges to build.

Polis spoke of a Colorado for everyone as he searched for the office three years ago. That promise was broken when the BLM abandoned DC and its commitment to diversity.

Losing the BLM seat is bad for Colorado, but it’s the right thing to do if we value people and share our treasure equally, rather than treating it like bean counted by bureaucrats.