KIM- The Army has finally answered US District Judge Richard Matsch’s ruling in 2007 that their environmental impact study was “clearly inadequate” and failed to protect the grasslands on the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site.
Last Thursday, the Army released its new 43-page environmental assessment that essentially re-states its original position for increasing training at the PCMS.
The Army assessment gives short shrift to Matsch’s concerns, and states that whatever damage that occurs to the grasslands will get better during the downtime between training sessions. The Army argues that further environmental studies are not needed, and that “the proposed action may be approved and implemented without significant adverse unmitigated environmental impacts. As a result, a full environmental assessment is not necessary.”
Just how much more the Army would like to use PCMS is an unknown, but the Army feels “the upper level of training that can be accomplished while maintaining a sustainable environment has not been determined.”
In 2009, Judge Matsch ordered the Army to rescind its decision to increase training at the PCMS, as the Army’s own data showed extensive damage to the area after maneuvers, stating their own studies contradicted their stated their need for more training at the site. The Army argues this information is anecdotal and does not prove extensive damage.
The Army is planning to hold two public meetings in La Junta and Trinidad, and has agreed to a 60-day public comment period. The full report can be read online at the Ft. Carson website, or at public libraries in Walsenburg, Pueblo, Trinidad, Cañon City, Rocky Ford and La Junta.