OGDEN, Utah (AP) — U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop said Thursday that Ogden should be the new home of the headquarters of Bureau of Land Management and that he’ll make his case when a high-ranking Interior Department official visits the northern Utah city next week.
Bishop said he and Ogden officials plan to give a city tour to the acting assistant secretary of the Department of the Interior, Susan Combs, the Standard-Examiner newspaper reports .
She will be in Ogden on Tuesday for a discussion on the reorganization of the Department of the Interior hosted by the House Natural Resources Committee. Bishop is the chairman of the committee.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who oversees the bureau, is considering moving its headquarters from Washington, D.C., to the West. Other states such as Colorado are also trying to lure the headquarters.
“If you’re going to move (the BLM), Utah makes as much sense as anybody,” said Bishop, a Republican seeking re-election. “I know other areas like Colorado, their senators are pushing big time. I thought it’s time to use my chairmanship to push back a little on the side of Utah.”
Ogden is a city of 87,000 people north of Salt Lake City.
Ogden has been “short-listed” as Interior officials consider possible cities in the West, said Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell. He said he’s arranging the tour at the request of Interior official.
“We’d be thrilled to be in that conversation,” Caldwell said.
Bishop said Interior officials want to see the lifestyle in the area and get a sense for proximity to colleges and the airport in Salt Lake City, which is about a 40-minute drive away. There is a smaller, regional airport in Ogden.
Bishop said the cities of St. George and Cedar City in southern Utah have also been mentioned as other possible headquarters locations if the Bureau moves. Denver is another possibility, Caldwell said.
There’s no set timetable for Zinke’s decision.
Conservative Utah leaders have long chafed under the agency’s management of 36,000 square miles (93,000 square kilometers) of public land in the state and called for it to come under state control instead. Edwards said that moving the agency headquarters out West would be a step toward addressing their concerns.
The bureau manages nearly 388,000 square miles (1 million square kilometers) nationwide, and 99 percent is in 12 Western states.
While other Western leaders agree the headquarters should be closer to the land it manages, bureau veterans have said the agency needs a presence in Washington, D.C.
During Zinke’s visit to Utah in July, Republican Gov. Gary Herbert said he had a “good discussion” promoting Utah with Zinke.