The Bureau of Land Management has told its employees that the agency faces a “challenging budget environment” that may lead to buyout and early retirement offers.

“While the FY 2018 budget is not final, we must heed the staffing levels that it calls for. For our agency, this could mean 1,000 fewer full-time equivalent employees across the nation.” Michael Nedd, acting director, said in an email to employees. “I understand this may create anxiety among some staff as we try to plan for the future of our agency, ourselves, and our families. Your leadership team is working to minimize the impact to our workforce while reviewing our priority work to determine what can be accomplished with the resources available.

“We remain hopeful that the BLM can handle reducing the size of our workforce through normal attrition, retirements, and smart, selective hiring with an emphasis on trying to fill our critical vacancies from within our current workforce. To accelerate attrition, the department may also seek authority from the Office of Personnel Management to offer early retirement and voluntary separation incentives later this year,” he wrote.

An accompanying question and answer sheet said the administration’s top priorities for the agency are: encouraging environmentally responsible development of energy and minerals on public lands; promoting multiple use of public lands; security of the borderlands; promoting job creation and supporting working landscapes; and supporting traditional land uses such as grazing, and providing access to recreation.

“There could be shifts in projects you are working on, depending on your local line officer’s priority focus. You may be asked to work on new or different projects based on your office’s needs and staffing,” it said.

It added: “Because of the various hiring controls that are currently in place that limit our ability to recruit new employees from outside BLM, there is a growing number of detail and temporary promotion opportunities being posted to temporarily fill important vacancies.” Additionally, there will be an increasing number of lateral reassignment opportunities, it said.