Letters to the Editor

Don't let Army sneakily annex Piñon Canyon

Dear Senator Bennet:

The residents of southeastern Colorado have been fighting the United States Army’s attempts at expanding the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site (PCMS) for six years. Clearly, expansion cannot occur in a contagious fashion without forcibly removing many multigenerational families off the land. Our congressional delegation has recognized this fact, and, for the past three years, Congress has approved a prohibition on the Army’s use of any appropriated moneys to expand PCMS.

The Colorado General Assembly, as well, has been consistently fighting expansion plans. This year, we passed — with bipartisan support — House Bill 1317, by a 72 to 26 vote, to prohibit the State Land Board from selling or leasing any land to the federal government for the purpose of expanding Piñon Canyon. Clearly, the Legislature has made its opinion known that expansion should be off the table.

In recent weeks, we have been disappointed to learn that the U.S. Army secretly has been making plans to annex PCMS into Fort Carson. This information was discovered only as the result of a Freedom of Information Act request by “Not 1 More Acre!,” a group of local ranchers. The Army had been keeping the annexation plans secret from the public — and certainly Congress.

It appears that the Army is attempting to get around the funding ban for expansion that is the expressed desire of Congress. The Army’s covert actions trying to annex PCMS into Fort Carson would allow it to spend money towards expansion. This clearly would be in contempt of Congress.

In order to prevent the Army from using backhanded tactics to secretly expand PCMS without approval of Congress, we respectfully ask you to support an amendment to the defense appropriations bill stating:

“No funds shall be expended to create Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site as a sub-installation of Fort Carson.”

It is due time that the Army stop using backhanded attempts to force our farmers and ranchers off their land. We beg you to stand up with the people across our state and nation in opposing the expansion of Piñon Canyon.

Sincerely,

State Reps. Sal Pace, D-Pueblo; Liane “Buffie” McFadyen, D-Pueblo; Edward Vigil, D-Fort Garland; Wes McKinley, D-Walsh; State Sen. Kenneth Kester, R-Las Animas