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US land agency plans to pick new office in West by September

In this June 29, 2018 photo, wild horses drink from a watering hole on public land outside Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

DENVER (AP) — The U.S. Interior Department says it plans to choose a Western city as the new headquarters for its vast public lands holding by the end of September.

Deputy Assistant Interior Secretary Scott Cameron told Congress on Tuesday the department hopes to decide on the location by the end of the fiscal year, which is Sept. 30.

The department says it wants to move the Bureau of Land Management out of Washington to be closer to the land it oversees. The bureau manages nearly 388,000 square miles (1 billion square kilometers), and 99% is in 12 Western states.

Officials said previously that Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico and Utah are in the running.

Cameron also says the department may move the headquarters of its U.S. Geological Survey to the Denver area.