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Update: (From 5280.com) State Lawmakers Take on Army's Expansion Plans in Southeast Colorado The Army's controversial move to acquire an additional 100,000 acres of land in southeastern Colorado has made its way from Washington, D.C., to the Colorado Legislature. Yesterday, the state House of Representatives voted to prevent the State Land Board from selling or leasing land to the federal government if it means that Fort Carson's Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site would grow. The legislation is meant to prevent the Army from expanding the 238,000-acre site, a move opposed by ranchers in southeastern Colorado who say their lands are under siege, according to The Pueblo Chieftain. Roughly 20 percent of the land that the Army has designated for future expansion is State Land Board land, placing a major crimp in any plans to expand, according to News 13 in Colorado Springs.
Meanwhile, back in D.C. last week, U.S. Representatives John Salazar and Betsy Markey, whose districts include pieces of the proposed site, called on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to ask the Army for an updated briefing on its plans by no later than April 10, according to another Chieftain article.
The Department of Defense secured the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site in the early 1980s through purchase and eminent domain (It is said to have been the largest seizure of land through eminent domain). At that time, DoD promised that 1) No live ammunition would be used on the site and, 2) No additional land would be requested. Both of those promises have been broken.
For the past 4 years, the Army has been discussing the acquisition of additional land nearby. Various statements as to the amount of land have been made by the Army, but leaked documents indicate that they want the entire southeast corner of the State of Colorado. This time around, the citizens are more adamantly opposed. Nearly every ranch in the area has a sign proclaiming “This land NOT for sale to the Army”.
On Wednesday, April 1, a committee hearing on HB 09-1317 was held. This bill would direct the Colorado Land Board NOT to sell any more State owned land to the Army. Representative McKinley (District 64) and Representative Pace (District 46) sponsored the bill (among others). The hearing lasted 3 hours and all of the speakers were in favor of the bill. The young people, representing their Future Farmers of America groups, had traveled 4 hours to get to Denver. In my opinion, theirs was the testimony that struck closest to the heart of the matter.
You can support their efforts by buying one-square inch of Pinon Canyon Land here for just $10.