|The Army's Big Map |
By THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
October 30, 2008
AFTER TWO years of disclaimers, the Army is stuck with "The Big Map," printed in a 2004 FortCarson report, revealing a plan to purchase up to 7 million acres - the entire southeast corner of Colorado - for PinonCanyon expansion.
The plan, unearthed in a lawsuit by expansion opponents, puts the land acquisition costs at roughly $1 billion and says it would displace 17,263 people in five counties - Las Animas, Otero, Baca, Bent and Prowers.
The opposition group, Not 1 More Acre!, actually obtained a copy of this startling map two years ago and confronted Army officials about it. Until the actual map showed up in court documents earlier this month, however, Army officials consistently disowned or dismissed it. In other words, they stonewalled the ranchers' questions.
Now, caught red-handed with the evidence, an Army spokesman dismissed the 2004 FortCarson report as "silly," adding: "We write tons of plans, most of them are never followed. That study was never adopted by the Army."
Is that so? Consider that the first step in the "big map" calls for the Army to purchase 80,000 acres directly south of the current Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site - almost exactly what Army officials said they would settle for in July.
All of Southeastern Colorado must be alert to the danger of a massive land grab by the government. Be vigilant to the possibility - and we doubt it's remote - that the Army may resurrect the 2004 plan and eventually increase the 80,000 acres to 7 million acres.
It would devastate the region's economy to take that property - 6 million acres from private agricultural owners and 1 million acres from the Forest Service - to displace anywhere close to 17,263 people and to take so much land out of production and off the tax rolls.
We have waited for the Army to level with the people whose livelihoods and property are at stake in Southeastern Colorado. Now we have a "smoking gun," and it is loaded with additional questions about what the Army really has in mind for PinonCanyon.
We and the region are still waiting for answers.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Click HERE to see the 19 page Analysis of Alternatives that the Chieftain is referencing to see for yourself.
Click HERE to view a copy of the original leaked map that prompted the first opposition efforts almost 3 years ago.