David Bernhardt. (Provided by the U.S. Department of the Interior)

GRAND JUNCTION — The Bureau of Land Management has signed a lease agreement in Colorado to solidify relocation of its headquarters from the District of Columbia.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported Friday that U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner announced the decision Friday saying it would bring at least 27 positions to Grand Junction.

Colorado Public Radio reports that the building where the BLM headquarters will be located also houses oil and gas companies, as well as the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission. That has stoked controversy because the agency regulates energy companies that drill on its land.

Gardner, a Republican, says moving the headquarters would strengthen the agency’s relationship with local officials and move decision makers closer to the lands and people they work with so they can make more informed decisions.

“From the very beginning moving the BLM’s headquarters West has always been about strengthening the BLM’s relationship with local officials, moving the decision makers closer to the lands they oversee and the people they serve, and making better land management decisions,” Gardner said in a written statement. “This commonsense move will save taxpayers money and solidify Colorado’s legacy as a responsible steward of public lands.”

Some who oppose the decision say the move could diminish the agency’s voice in the District of Columbia.

Details of the lease agreement were not yet available, but the 10,000-square-foot (929-square-meter) property was listed online for about $25 for every square foot (0.1 square meters).

The lease announcement comes as Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who oversees the BLM, was in Grand Junction this weekend to give a speech at the Club 20 summit there. Bernhardt is a Colorado native.

The Colorado Sun contributed to this report.

The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative, serving member newspapers and broadcasters in the U.S., and other customers around the world. The Colorado Sun is proud to be one of them. AP journalists in more...