News outlets are reporting that the Trump administration will essentially eliminate the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Washington DC headquarters and transfer senior leadership and the majority of the office’s roughly 500 employees to new headquarters in Grand Junction, Colorado, and other locations in the West. It has also been reported that the reorganization may lead to significant and unprecedented changes in agency decision-making authority, with many senior-level officials now reporting to individual state directors.
Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement:
“The Bureau of Land Management’s Washington headquarters comprises only 5% of the agency’s total workforce, but it plays a pivotal role in shaping consistent and coordinated policy across the 245 million acres of public lands administered by the agency. This ill-conceived and costly effort will not only force unnecessary disruption to Interior’s dedicated staff but will also significantly undermine BLM’s conservation mission by diminishing the agency's leadership, expertise and accountability in wildlife and natural resource management.”
“The agencies, bureaus, and programs administered by the Interior Department are profoundly important to conserving and managing the natural resources that define our nation and the values we share. Rather than reorganization, Interior bureaus and agencies need capacity and resources to support their dedicated public servants to focus on the critical conservation and natural resource management challenges that the Interior Department faces today.”
Rappaport Clark testified before the House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on April 30th, 2019. Ms. Rappaport Clark was director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from 1997 to 2001 and oversaw the addition of 27 new wildlife refuges and more than 2 million acres to the National Wildlife Refuge System. The oversight hearing, “No Road Map, No Destination, No Justification: The Implementation and Impacts of the Reorganization of the Department of the Interior,” probed the Trump administration’s costly and disruptive effort to reorganize the Department of the Interior.
Download Ms. Clark’s full testimony here.
BLM administers more than 245 million acres of public lands in 23 states (one-tenth of the U.S. land base), primarily in the American West and Alaska. These forestlands, grasslands, wetlands, rivers, streams and deserts are habitat for thousands of fish, wildlife and plant species, including approximately 430 threatened and endangered species protected under the Endangered Species Act.
BLM lands (known as the National System of Public Lands) are managed for multiple uses and public values, from oil and gas development and livestock grazing to conservation of environmental, historical, cultural resources to the provision of recreational opportunities valued at billions of dollars.
Administration of these vast lands, waters and subsurface estate benefits from the vision, direction and adaptive planning provided by a dedicated and cohesive team of professionals at BLM headquarters, collaborating with Congress and other departments and agencies in Washington, DC.