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Congressman Salazar asks Dept of Defense to investigate

WASHINGTON, DC – On Thursday, June 17, Congressman John Salazar officially asked the Department of Defense Inspector General to investigate two issues of concern regarding the U.S. Army’s efforts to acquire land near the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site. Portions of the letter from Congressman Salazar to the Inspector General, Gordon S. Heddell is below:

June 17, 2010

    Dear Honorable Gordon S. Heddell,

    I am writing today to request an investigation into the U.S. Army’s (Army) use of the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site in Colorado (Piñon Canyon).  I would appreciate you looking into two particular issues of concern in which I believe the Army is inappropriately participating.

    First, PL 110-161, PL 110-329, and PL 111-117 have been signed by Presidents Bush and Obama during the past 3 fiscal years.  All three laws included the following provision:

    “None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available in this title may be used for any action that is related to or promotes the expansion of the boundaries or size of the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site, Colorado.”

    It is my belief that the Army is violating this statute in their quest to expand Piñon Canyon.  The Army’s attempts to expand run counter to 3 years of Congressional and Presidential intent.

    Second, on September 8, 2009 U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch issued a decision, ruling, “The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was deficient since it failed to mention the adverse impacts of the Army′s proposed action or any means by which to mitigate those effects.”  Judge Matsch says the Army did not adequately assess the environmental impacts of the increased intensity and duration of training.      I understand the Army needs adequate land for training and other purposes.  However, not only is the Army working against the President, Congress and a decision of a U.S. District Court, but also against a finding of  the Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) which stated that they Army needed no additional land for troops being relocated to Ft. Carson, CO.  The threat of expansion continues to haunt the livelihood of those living in or around Piñon Canyon.  The threat of eminent domain is driving land values to nearly nothing, and is suffocating the number one economic driver in the region: agriculture.  I want to make sure those constituents in Southeastern Colorado are treated fairly and with respect.