The BLM is moving to Grand Junction.
When I first heard that on Colorado Public Radio, I did a double take.
I get all the reasoning about moving people west. Employees should be close to the public lands that they act as stewards for. Blah, blah, blah.
But the truth is, BLM land spans over many state from Colorado California, and from New Mexico north Idaho. The options for relocating BLM headquarters were many.
By the sound of local community groups, Grand Junction felt like they won the lottery.
Now, we’re on the map!
Only later in the story, did the details come out — a sum total of 27 employees were actually moving to the new “headquarters.” Not exactly the boon for the economy that Senator Cory Gardner portrayed it.
As someone who live in both the Washington, DC area and Grand Junction, I had unique perspective on how this news must have hit BLM employees and their families.
In fact, it was eleven years ago that my husband and I relocated from Frederick, Maryland (a bedroom community of DC) to Grand Junction. So I had a lot of insight.
I love the American west. The wide open spaces remind me of freedom and seeking your destiny. I could have easily been one of those early pioneers who headed along the dusty Oregon Trail.
When I found out the Bryon had gotten a job offer with the Weather Service in Grand Junction, I was thrilled. Back to wilderness, and ruggedness, and adventure.
Yet, when we arrived, I was hit with a stark reality.
I’d been to Grand Junction as a little girl. We’d visited Colorado National Monument and the western slope city on a summer vacation.
Though I remembered the red rock canyons of the monument, nothing came to my mind about the city.
Still, as we left dinner after our last night on the road, my excitement level rose. Driving west on I-70, ascending Loveland and Vail passes, I felt buoyant. Yes, this is the Colorado I remembered from my childhood.
Rugged snow-capped peaks with wildflowers blooming, and pristine alpine lakes. We were going to live in utopia!
Then we got past Vail, and the scenery changed. It became more and more desert-like, arid. Dust devils whirled up off the crusty surface.
As we approached Grand Junction, it no longer seemed like nirvana. It seemed like Dante’s Inferno. Temperatures hit the 100 degree mark, and brown surrounded us. My heart sunk.
As I looked for a place to live, the amenities I’d learned to depend on in Washington, DC were long gone. No world-class museums, fancy shopping malls, Metro rail. Instead, culture had been replaced by acres and acres of dusty BLM lands.
I’d wanted to go to Colorado to live the alpine life, and instead it felt like I’d moved to the desert. I spent two years trying to find gainful employment. Instead spent two years of doing temp work that left me woefully unsatisfied.
In a Public Radio interview today, Cory Gardner accused employees who didn’t want to move to Grand Junction of not truly being committed to their jobs. That’s a bit unfair to families who are used to having a certain kind of life in our nation’s capital.
If he finds it such a bastion of opportunity, why doesn’t he live there?