PINON CANYON– Several Southeastern Colorado lawmakers yesterday sent a request to US Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall urging them to stop the US Army from using annexation laws to transfer Pinon Canyon to Fort Carson, and hence avoid the congressional funding moratorium on expansion. The Army′s secret plan for annexation was only discovered two weeks ago as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request. An amendment could be added onto the Defense Appropriations Bill which may be up for a vote in the Senate as soon as this week.
Bipartisan signors of the letter include : Reps. Sal Pace, Wes McKinley, Buffie McFadyen, and Ed Vigil, and Senator Ken Kester.
The letter states, in part: "The Army′s covert actions trying to annex PCMS into Fort Carson would allow them to spend money towards expansion. This would be clearly in contempt of Congress….It is due time that the Army stop using backhanded attempts to force our farmers and ranchers off their land. We beg you to stand up with the people across our state and nation opposing the expansion at Pinon Canyon."
The complete letter to Senators Bennet and Udall follows: “The residents of southeastern Colorado have been fighting the United States Army′s attempts at expanding the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site (PCMS) for six years. Clearly expansion cannot occur in a contiguous fashion without forcibly removing many multi-generational families off the land. Our Congressional delegation in recent years has recognized this fact; and for the past three years Congress has approved a prohibition on the Army′s use of any appropriated moneys to expand PCMS. The Colorado General Assembly, as well, has been consistently fighting expansion plans. This year we passed with bipartisan support, HB 1317, by a 72 to 26 margin, to prohibit the State Land Board from selling or leasing any land to the Federal Government for the purpose of expanding Pinon Canyon. Clearly, the legislature has made its opinion known that expansion should be off the table.
In recent weeks, we have been disappointed to learn that the US Army has been secretly making plans to annex PCMS into Fort Carson. This information was only discovered as a result of a Freedom Of Information Act request by "Not 1 More Acre!", a group of local ranchers. The Army had been keeping the annexation plans secret from the public and certainly Congress. It appears that the Army is attempting to get around the funding ban for expansion that is the expressed desire of Congress. The Army′s covert actions trying to annex PCMS into Fort Carson would allow them to spend money towards expansion. This would be clearly in contempt of Congress.
In order to prevent the Army from using back-handed tactics to secretly expand PCMS without approval of Congress, we respectfully ask you to support an amendment to the defense appropriations bill stating: "no funds shall be expended to create Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site as a sub-installation of Fort Carson."
It is due time that the Army stop using backhanded attempts to force our farmers and ranchers off their land. We beg you to stand up with the people across our state and nation opposing the expansion at Pinon Canyon.”