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From Jeanne Fenter, SE Colo Tourism & Economic <secolo_tourism@colostate.edu>

 CCA opposes Pinon Canyon expansion

 

 

 

By MIKE HARRIS - Monday, April 10, 2006 2:22 PM MDT

map

- Illustration By Mark Johnston

This map is a Tribune-Democrat re-creation of the map released at a Southern Colorado Livestock Association meeting in Hoehne on April 1. The re-creation is to help clarify the phases and proposed area of expansion shown on the original map. The original map can be found on page 2. (LJTD Illustration/Mark Johnston)

 

 

Opposition to the proposed Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site expansion in southeastern Colorado has gained more support from the nation's oldest state cattleman's association.

Monday morning, the Colorado Cattlemen's Association added its voice to the opposition of the proposed expansion, with a press release citing severe revenue loss which would mostly affect Las Animas County.

According to the release the county has a market value in production of $20,887,000, with crop sales accounting for $761,000, and livestock sales accounting for $20,126,000, with a cattle and calf inventory of 41,227; cattle and calf sales accounting for $19,758,000 of the livestock sales.

The press release goes on to say that if PCMS were to expand only an additional 250,000 to 750,000 acres it would eliminate an estimated 6,500 to 18,000 head of cattle from production which is roughly one sixth to one half of the total number of cattle in Las Animas County.

Additionally $3.165 to $8.78 million dollars of annual revenue from cattle production would be lost from the rural county for perpetuity. The press release asks how Las Animas County will recoup those losses.

Although CCA was apparently unaware of the map, their release also said “when small communities disappear, they take local schools, businesses, residents, and a significant tax base with them - Phase five on the map would envelop at least Kim and Pritchett, and border Springfield.

Robert Farnam, CCA's Director of Industry Programs said that if the proposed expansion were to happen it would affect approximately 188 families in the Kim area alone.

Farnam said that CCA and county commissioners have not been able to get any more answers from the Army regarding the proposed expansion than anyone else.

map

- Provided map

This map is a direct copy of the map released at a Southern Colorado Livestock Association meeting in Hoehne on April 1. The only change to the map made by the Tribune-Democrat is to darken the shading on the future expansion portion of the map.


Farnam said that CCA has as a policy issue always opposed government land grabs; and that they don't support eminent domain or condemnation.

Farnam referred to the Army's recent statements that the Army wouldn't condemn property, saying that when the PCMS was initially created the Army said the same thing - that they would not condemn - then brought in the Army Corps of Engineers who actually condemned the property or otherwise forced the sale through the condemnation process.

Farnam added that El Paso County - Fort Carson and Colorado Springs - would profit from the expansion at the expense of Southeastern Colorado counties directly affected by the expansion. Farnam said that the CCA is doing some additional research to see if there's ever in Colorado's history been as audacious a case of one county profiting at the expense of others.

But, according to a recently leaked draft map, the expansion area would not only affect Las Animas County as it shows the site could ultimately encompass more than 2.5 million acres. (See a print of the recently leaked draft map on page 2).

The draft map of the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site expansion to a Southern Colorado Livestock Association officer caused some consternation with Fort Carson officials at their meeting with the association April 1 in Hoehne.

The map, purportedly a copy from the draft plan working its way up the chain of command at the Department of Defense, shows a potential increase in the size of the PCMS to over 2,500,000 acres ultimately - running all the way to the Kansas border in the East, and the New Mexico and Oklahoma borders in the South. The map indicates that the expansion will happen in five phases over at least 18 years, with the largest land area - labeled future expansion area - with a question mark for when it might happen.

When the map was released at the meeting, Mike Heredia, a civilian contractor and strategic group initiatives group chief, said that someone had violated their oath in releasing the map - providing information that was confidential - and then said that he'd never seen the map, implying that the map was a forgery since he'd never seen it.

Heredia also said that training space in Fort Carson was maxed out, even with half the troops currently deployed. However, this is a direct contradiction to what Col. Terry Wolff, Deputy Commander of the 7th Infantry Division and Fort Carson said during a meeting with the Trinidad and Las Animas County Chamber of Commerce in February.

 

 

Wolff said at that meeting that the PCMS - at it's current size of 250,000 acres was being underutilized this year.

Commissioners from Las Animas, Otero and Bent counties are expected to meet Tuesday to discuss the economic impact of this proposed expansion.

The CCA is urging it's members to contact Senator Wayne Allard (R Colo.), and Senator Ken Salazar (D Colo.) and share their concerns with their representatives.

Farnam said that in discussions with the Senators CCA had been told that the Senators would step in, if enough people contacted them in opposition to the expansion.