The Wildlife Society concerned about BLM move

By Laura Bies

The BLM is moving forward with plans to reassign employees to offices throughout the western U.S.
©BLM Oregon and Washington

The Wildlife Society sent a letter to the Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt last week, expressing concern about the plan to relocate the Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters to Colorado and shift hundreds of employees to BLM offices across the western United States.

The relocation plan, first announced in July, is part of a larger plan developed by former Secretary Ryan Zinke to reorganize the Department of the Interior. As part of the plan, the BLM headquarters office would move from Washington, D.C. to Grand Junction, Colo., and staff from various BLM departments now located in Washington, D.C., would move to agency offices in various western states. Wildlife staff would be relocated to Utah, fisheries staff would be relocated to Colorado, and rangeland resources staff to Idaho.

In the letter, The Wildlife Society noted that “the proposed move will directly affect wildlife professionals, their livelihoods, and their ability to successfully and efficiently conduct wildlife conservation and management activities across federal public lands.” It went on to state that, “the relocation will impact not only those professionals that work for the agency, but also those in other federal agencies, state agencies, universities and conservation organizations that partner with the agency to achieve its mission. It will also change the agency’s ability to consider wildlife science when it is making and influencing policy decisions by the Department, Administration, or Congress.”

The letter included several key concerns about the move, including reducing the ability of relocated staff to collaborate both internally and with external partners such as other agencies and states, limiting the scientific expertise available to department leadership and congressional offices, and pulling funding from mission-oriented effort to fund the relocation.

TWS is also concerned about the effect of the plan on the employment trajectory of BLM career professionals, as the forced relocations could cause a loss of institutional knowledge in the agency and create vacancies that slow the agency’s work.

BLM employees currently based in Washington, D.C. who work in the offices slated to move west recently received letters giving them until Dec. 12 to decide whether they would accept their relocation assignments or be subject to possible removal from federal service.

Laura BiesLaura Bies is a government relations contractor and freelance writer for The Wildlife Society. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science and a law degree from George Washington University. Laura has worked with The Wildlife Society since 2005. Read more of Laura's articles.

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