Earlier this month Colorado Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet wrote to Secretary of the Army John McHugh to state their opposition to any expansion of the 235,000-acre Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site.
They got their response from McHugh, saying the Army has no current plans to expand the area and will not seek funding to do so within the next five years.
“Southern Coloradans support our military but they also have legitimate concerns about how the Army’s plans affect their future,” Udall said in a prepared statement. “I appreciate that Secretary McHugh states the Army’s intent as clearly as possible: it has no plans to expand the boundaries of Pinon Canyon. My goal in sending this letter was to build renewed trust and understanding between the Army and the residents of southern Colorado. Our men and women in uniform need to train, and property owners also should have a basic ability to use the land they own without undue concerns about the future. I hope this letter will allow both the ranchers and the Army to move forward.”
“Now that we have it in writing, Southern Colorado landowners have a new degree of certainty and clarity from the Army on Pinon Canyon,” said Bennet. “Putting this pledge to paper should help get everyone on the same page and pave the way for renewed relationships between southern Colorado and the Army that are beneficial to the region and help strengthen our national security.”
The expansion of the Pinon Canyon area has been contentious for years, with politicians struggling to support the military while also supporting adjacent property owners who do not want to see the area expanded.