by Greg Walcher, Senior Policy Fellow
As Appearing in The Daily Sentinel
Gustave Aimard famously wrote that “There is something more powerful than the brute force of bayonets: it is the idea whose time has come.” It could well be said of this week’s announcement that the Interior Department will, at long last, move the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to Grand Junction.
The BLM has never belonged in Washington. It manages 247 million acres, almost half of all public lands, and 700 million acres of mineral rights, with a unique mission. The National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Forest Service, for instance, all have very specific uses, but the BLM is tasked with managing its lands for multiple uses, in numerous categories and under a wide variety of laws.
That includes 18,000 grazing permits, 220 wilderness areas, 27 national monuments, 600 National Conservation Areas, 200,000 miles of streams, 2,000 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers, 6,000 miles of National Scenic Trails, 63,000 oil and gas wells, 25,000 mines, and 50 million acres of forests. Not a square inch of that is in Washington, D.C. It is in 12 western states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. It has never made sense for the leadership to work 2,000 miles away, insulated by the inevitably different perspectives of life inside the Beltway.