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BLM 'losing a lot of great people'

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Rockies Today

December 3 · Issue #45 · View online
The big stories up and down the Rocky Mountains, curated by Mountain West News

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Matthew Frank

BLM 'losing a lot of great people'
Scott Streater of E&E News reports today that the BLM “appears poised to lose the majority of its Washington, D.C.-based staff as part of its plans to relocate out West,” according to numerous sources.
BLM to suffer major staff losses in move West BLM to suffer major staff losses in move West
BLM issued an emailed statement to E&E News today stating it can’t address the number of employees agreeing to leave or stay until after the 30-day deadline Dec. 12.
But the feedback from employees and other sources provides insight into how the plan to relocate the headquarters out West, and closer to the lands the bureau manages, may affect BLM operations in the coming months.
And it appears likely that many D.C.-based employees have no intention to relocate to Colorado or eight other state offices in Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming. More than 200 positions are slated to move as part of the relocation plan announced in July.
Some BLM divisions will be left with only a handful of employees who agree to move, sources said.
But BLM, which in September leased an office in Grand Junction for the new headquarters, continues to push forward with the relocation plan.
The bureau has made a concerted effort in the past two months to fill numerous vacant positions that are moving to Grand Junction. It has advertised in USAJobs for the BLM chief of staff, senior policy adviser and senior litigation specialist positions, as well as assistant director of resources and planning. It’s not clear whether any of those positions have been filled.
Some D.C.-based senior officials are so concerned about a massive “brain drain” at the bureau, they are taking matters into their own hands by developing “playbooks” that will “describe what we do” for the many new senior-level officials replacing those who do not move, said a current BLM official who asked not to be identified.
“We’re losing a lot of great people because they are just not able to move due to various reasons and family needs,” the official said. “We’re also losing a lot of corporate knowledge on what we do. So we’re talking about developing playbooks about what we do. There’s so many leaving, we’re going to forget about what we did in the past and how we do it. They’re all going to be new people.”
We’ve seen this before:
Scientists desert USDA as agency relocates to Kansas City area
That’s the point, as Mick Mulvaney said in August:
Mulvaney: Relocating offices is a 'wonderful way' to shed federal employees
Mulvaney on Firing Federal Employees
Utah bucks Trump's nativism
Trump gave states the power to ban refugees. Conservative Utah wants more of them. Trump gave states the power to ban refugees. Conservative Utah wants more of them.
This fall, President Trump signed an executive order that, for the first time, gives states and cities the authority to veto refugee resettlements. The move alarms refugee advocates, who fear a wave of xenophobic demagoguery as governors and mayors seek to prove their anti-immigrant credentials by banning new arrivals.
That still may happen, adding to the strain on a once world-class resettlement program that has been crippled by cuts since Trump took office.
But in Utah — deeply conservative, deeply devout, predominantly white Utah — the response has been altogether different. The governor, a Republican who aligns with Trump on most issues, wrote the president a letter in late October.
He didn’t want to keep refugees out. He didn’t want to reduce their numbers. He wanted Trump to send more.
“We empathize deeply with individuals and groups who have been forced from their homes and we love giving them a new home and a new life,” Gov. Gary R. Herbert wrote. Such newcomers, he added, have become “productive employees and responsible citizens.” They have been an asset to Utah, he said, not a liability.
Republicans in the state legislature quickly backed up their governor, daring to defy a president who has repeatedly shown an unwillingness to tolerate intraparty dissent. So did Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation. So did Republicans in city halls. Democrats across Utah added their support.
“I have to be honest: I don’t have any idea why it’s a partisan issue nationally. It’s never been one here,” said Brad Wilson, the state’s Republican speaker of the House. “Regardless of political party, we value these people.”
On Monday…
LDS leaders reaffirm support for refugees
Meanwhile, in Denver…
Spring Café linked refugees with state lawmakers. A shortage of immigrants means the Denver coffee shop will close.
Might Wyoming sell state lands?
Lawmakers seek to develop more school trust lands Lawmakers seek to develop more school trust lands
Speaking of diversifying the economy in Wyoming…
Eastern Shoshone considering hemp and medical marijuana to diversify reservation economy
Colorado's place in the sun
Colorado regulators considering rules aimed at expanding community solar projects in state Colorado regulators considering rules aimed at expanding community solar projects in state
Context from Greentech Media:
'I'd tell my mom to sign up.' Has community solar finally come of age?
More energy news:
Energy activity spurs jump in Wyoming tax collections
The U.S. just hit a major milestone as a petroleum exporter
Trans Mountain to start construction on pipeline expansion after years of delay
Toxic, briny water surfaces in Okla. Is oil to blame?
SCOTUS hears Superfund arguments
Bloomberg Environment’s Sylvia Carignan and Ellen M. Gilmer report from the U.S. Supreme Court, where justices heard arguments today in a Montana Superfund dispute that could have implications for cleanups nationwide:
Supreme Court seems wary of disrupting Montana Superfund cleanup Supreme Court seems wary of disrupting Montana Superfund cleanup
Background:
Montana residents ask Supreme Court to allow cleanup beyond Superfund requirements
What else we're reading today
Privatizing state parks can save them—or wreck them
Study links short-term air pollution exposure to hospitalizations for growing list of health problems
Invasive grasses are fueling wildfires across the U.S.
Grizzly bear mortalities reach record high in northwest Montana
Graffiti on rail cars near Colstrip shows connections from across North America
Photograph of climate activist at Standing Rock to be preserved at Library of Congress
The water wars that defined the American West are heading east
Rockies Today is edited by Matthew Frank, Fellow in Regional Journalism at the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana.
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O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, 59812