The Written Comment period for an important Environmental Assessment closes February 17th:
An article in the Colorado Springs Business Journal discusses the Programmatic Environment Assessment (EA) for the Army 2020 Force Structure Realignment. This Realignment EA examines two alternatives for Fort Carson. Alternative 1 calls for the elimination of one Combat Brigade and the loss of 8000 soldiers. Alternative 2 calls for the addition of 3000 soldiers. The article reports that Colorado Springs interests are working with their lobbyists in Washington to influence the outcome in the direction of the an addition of a Battalion and a net increase of 3000 soldiers. They argue that Pinon Canyon, "provides enough room to train on some of the military's largest weapons systems."
This has huge implications for our regional economy. A shrinking Fort Carson would mean a reduced need for an expanded Pinon Canyon, or even for the continuation of the existing maneuver site. A growing Fort Carson would mean increased pressure on the existing site and a stronger argument for expansion. ____________________________
Colorado Springs is mobilizing defense contractors to influence these two processes; we should do the same. The article urges everyone involved with the Military Industrial Complex to send comments into the Environment Assessment urging that additional troops be sent to Fort Carson for training at Pinon Canyon.
We need to send our comments as well. Comments might include the following points:
We would welcome an easing of pressure upon the environment at Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site.
Expert economists in El Paso County encourage a more diversified economy in that region. We agree.
A reduction of troops training at Pinon Canyon would reduce the negative economic and political impacts upon our region as well.
The DoD should better utilize resources through coordination between branches. There are plenty of training ranges within the DoD real estate inventory.
While the EA identifies El Paso, Pueblo, and Fremont counties as being within the Region of Influence, ROI of the proposed action, it fails to identify or consider the impact upon counties surrounding the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site.
The EA inaccurately identifies the economic impact of Pinon Canyon on the surrounding region as "negligible." This is inaccurate. The direct loses in beef production, the multiplier effect in the surrounding economy, and lost tax revenue has had significant negative impact.
A troop reduction at Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site would have an overall positive public relations effect for the Army in the region.
Comments must be received by February 17th. Once the Army's EA process is completed that document will become an important resource for the BRACC* as they consider further closures (or expansions) down the road.
Send (mail) comments to: Public Comments USAEC, Attn: IMPA-AE (Army 2020 PEA) 2450 Connell Road, Building 2264 Fort Sam Houston, Texas 78234-7664
*Another round of Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRACC) is coming:
Colorado Springs leaders are jockeying for position for the next round of BRACC. An article in the Colorado Springs Business Journal titled, "The time is now: Other cities already ahead of Springs before BRAC process" , discusses the potential impact upon Colorado Springs as a result of the next Base Realignment and Closure Commission, BRACC process. In the article, Mike Jorgensen, chairman of the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance says, "We need to let the military use the Pinon Canyon space-not expand it, just use it fully. Those are the things that send the right message." The article speculates that Colorado Springs could come out on top if they play their cards right. And "playing their cards right" means sending the right message to the Department of the Army and to legislators:"With Pinon Canyon we have room to grow; Don't down-size us; Utilize our resources to their fullest.".