Jeb Bush said Wednesday that he would rein in regulation at the Interior Department and try to move its headquarters to the West if elected president.
The idea is part of Bush's proposal to better manage western land and resources, which he's expected to unveil at a policy round table discussion.
Bush said in prepared remarks that it makes no sense for an agency that manages hundreds of millions of acres of federal land across the West to be based in Washington D.C. The former Florida governor said the agency would do a better job of keeping in touch with the people it serves if its headquarters was in a place like Denver, Salt Lake City or Reno, Nevada.
Bush says federal land management under President Barack Obama has been characterized by restrictive regulations, more land use constraints and more land acquisition by the government.
"This relentless overregulation has undermined the trust between western communities and the federal government," Bush said.
"It must be restored. Washington D.C. needs to acknowledge that people who live on the land in the West are the best stewards of the land," he said.
He was set to speak in Nevada, the biggest gold mining state in the nation.
The early-caucusing political battleground also is home to ranching communities that graze their livestock on public lands. Both are concerned about federal attempts to protect greater sage grouse.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell recently decided against listing the bird as threatened or endangered. But critics say the Obama administration is pursuing other protective measures that could prove just as disruptive to western rural economies.