In the southeastern corner of Colorado, a broad-based (and growing) coalition of multi-generational ranch families, environmentalists, businesspeople, and state/regional/federal elected and appointed officials are locked in a David-and-Goliath battle with the United States Army.
At the heart of the issue is the Pinon Canyon Military Maneuver Site’s ravenous plans to expand its current 238,000 acres and ultimately acquire as much as an additional 7 million acres of prime agricultural and shortgrass prairie ecosystem land in the Arkansas Valley region.
This is not simply a local issue. This is not merely a problem of Westerners, ranchers, and oft-derided “tree-huggers.” This in no way dishonors our courageous troops who are daily placed in harm’s way.
This is yet aother egregious slap in the face against the American public by an all-powerful military accustomed to quietly slipping through the bounds of accountability and oversight.
The Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition needs an upwelling of support and a wider voice for its efforts — and it needs it now.
The group’s Mission Statement declares, “We hold dear our beliefs that our country’s very survival is dependent upon a responsible and responsive government. We believe that our country’s future is dependent on our ability to responsibly manage all of our resources including a strong and protected agriculture base capable of feeding the country without foreign imports. We also hold firm to the belief that our national security relies as much on our efforts to produce food as it does on a good national defense…”
If the Army is successful, seven communities will be displaced, longtime families uprooted, and significant cultural and ecological national treasures destroyed — thanks to your tax dollars.
If you traveled through this region and saw the signs dotting the landscape, proclaiming, “Not 1 More Acre!” or “This Land Not For Sale to the U.S. Army,” you would feel the proud heritage and courage brought to these windswept and dusty plains by homestead pioneers and immigrants.
Yet, if military brass and their private-contractor cronies are given free rein to run roughshod over private and public lands, a priceless corner of America will be forever lost.
The history of the military on American soil is tainted by its actions against Native American and Hispanic populations viewed as mere obstructions in the race toward greater power. Must the military now turn on its own, as well?