Update: Army Gets Pinon Canyon Waiver, John Salazar Responds

The U.S. Army wants Colorado’s Pinon Canyon, and they’ve obtained a waiver to speed up the process.

According to the Denver Post, the Army announced today that they are working to acquire 418,577 acres in southeastern Colorado to expand its Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, and the Pentagon has OK’d a waiver to the “moratorium on major land acquisitions.”
  From the article:

The Army announced that the waiver authorizes the Army to begin drafting an environmental impact statement on the expansion. The impact statement “will further evaluate potential alternatives, measures, economic and environmental impacts of the proposed acquisition,” the Army said.

Opposition to the expansion has been fierce among the area’s 500 ranchers and farmers, who said last year they have little faith the Army will consider their economic hardships when acquiring the land.


Rep. John Salazar responds:

“I am very concerned with the Army’s decision to move forward with this expansion.  I will continue to represent local leaders, and residents, and work with Army officials and Fort Carson leadership to ensure that we are all informed and involved in this process. 

“As a rancher who lives on the same land that my great-great grandfather once farmed, I would stand strong if the government tried to seize my land. As I have previously told Army officials, I cannot and will not support the use of eminent domain.  I will continue to monitor this process very closely to make sure that residents’ rights are not circumvented.”

The Rocky reports:

The plan would still take years. The Army first must complete a required Environmental Impact Statement before it can buy the land. And the Army said in December it would not seek funding for the project until the 2009 budget year, nearly two years from now.

Even so, the Defense Department’s action today underscored the Army’s serious intent on going ahead with its plan.

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at erosa@www.coloradoindependent.com.