by Bill Knowles
WALSENBURG- First it was off, then it was on again. It took five days for Rep. Scott Tipton— on the heels of Southeastern Colorado ranchers’ demands— to get the full House Appropriations Committee to restore an annual funding ban that’s helped stop the Army from expanding its Pinõn Canyon Maneuver site in southeast Colorado. The ban has been ping-ponged over the past week, starting when the house appropriations committee passed its 2012 budget early this week.
For the first time in four years, the budget process blocked the funding ban that has prohibited the Army from its expansion plans and that was put in place by Colorado 3rd district Rep. John Salazar. Earlier this week, Rep. John Culverson, R-Texas, chair of the Military Construction Subcommittee, indicated he would ban the four-year-old funding ban.
However Rep. Scott Tipton, who took over John Salazar’s seat after the November 2010 elections, convinced Culverason to support the ban and also convinced the chairman of a crucial house appropriations subcommittee to restore the funding ban of the Pinõn Canyon Maneuver Site.
The Appropriations Committee considered the military construction budget on Tuesday, May 24. With Culverson’s backing, the moratorium on funding the expansion of the training site is almost guaranteed to remain.
Tipton has seen the funding ban as a crucial issue because it has been the centerpiece of opposition from the region’s ranchers and farmers in his district, against the expansion of the 235,000 acre training site.
Tipton inherited the ban from former Rep. John Salazar, and ranchers opposed to the Army’s efforts were concerned last week when they learned that the military construction subcommittee had not retained it in the 2012 military construction draft budget a week ago.