Friday, November 02, 2007

Coloradans Stand Toe to Toe with the Army

Coloradans say, "This Land Is Our Land"

Pinon Canyon spending ban included in compromise bill

Associated Press - November 1, 2007

DENVER (AP) - Congressman John Salazar says a House-Senate conference committee agreed to bar the military from using money in the 2008 Defense Authorization Bill to expand the Army's Pinon Canyon training site.

Salazar, a Democrat, says the committee included the language in its final agreement. The compromise bill is expected to be voted on by the House and the Senate in the next two weeks.

The Army wants to nearly triple the southeast Colorado site to about 1,000 square miles. It says it needs the room because Fort Carson is growing and because new weapons and tactics require more space.

Some nearby ranch owners oppose the expansion, fearing it would force them to sell their property against their will.


It remains to be seen whether or not this is actually a victory. Seemingly so, albeit on a small scale, but the Army has certainly settled in, bureaucratically speaking, for the long haul. Though it still must pass muster in a final vote, it's out of committee, and tagging along on a "compromise bill", so it's probably a done deal. Yet, a lot can happen in a year, so maybe there's hope for the ranchers and farmers. But it is not time to relax a very close scrutiny of the DOD's moves, regarding the expansion.

Senator Ken Salazar seems in lock-step with the Expansion Coalition Opposition. He also recently, along with his brother, Congressman John Salazar. helped prevent the closing of the Bent County Farm Service Agency, as reported in the Nov 1, 2007 weekly edition of the Bent County Democrat, the local paper in Las Animas, Colorado.

In August, U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar and Rep. John Salazar sent Johanns a letter expressing their opposition to the current proposal. I know the Bent County farmers are relieved. And it's reassuring to see politicians actually doing their job - representing the people of their districts.

For more on Colorado's ongoing feud with the Army, and DOD, see The Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition.