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The War Next Door

Rich in history and imperiled species, Pinon Canyon isn't like any other place on earth. Locals fear that the Army wants to tear the hell out of it.

Ranchers say uncertainty about the future of the land surrounding PCMS has chilled the local real estate market and put plans for improvements or investment in their property on hold. Even though the Army has declared that expansion is no longer an issue, the shadow remains.

"How much more militarization of the surface of this planet do we really need?" Herrell asks. "If this is all up in the air, do you invest in your property? Can you plan on giving it to your kids? Are you going to be able to sell it to someone else who wants it as a ranch? There's a genuine dark cloud hanging over the region."

As long as the waiver is still in effect, the opposition crowd believes expansion is still a real threat. The funding ban that prevented additional land acquisition is up for renewal in the House of Representatives next month, and Salazar and Musgrave, the champions of the measure four years ago, are no longer members.

"We have a junior Colorado delegation, with Cory Gardner and Scott Tipton in there," Wooten notes. "We're not sure they're going to be able to fend against Mike Coffman and Doug Lamborn to continue that ban."

One way locals have sought to guard against expansion of PCMS is by documenting the environmental and cultural values of their own properties, giving outside experts free access to their land to survey wildlife and historic sites. From 2007 to 2009, researchers from the Colorado Natural Heritage Program visited 26 ranches and documented 41 rare animal species and 36 rare plants — a remarkable count for privately owned areas that have no formal conservation protection.

"The most surprising thing is how intact the larger landscape is," says CSU ecologist Rondeau. "The ranchers have been actively managing it. It's really a credit to the private landowners that we found as much as we did, and most of it was in pretty good condition. They're good stewards of the land."

And good fighters, too, Lon Robertson insists. "We don't think this is ever going to go away," he says. "This is the life we live, and we're going to have to defend it if we're going to continue to live that way.

"These families have been here for generations. They aren't out here because they give up easily. They're out here because they don't mind a little adversity. And they know how to push back."

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6 comments
janisl55
janisl55

Every BRAC'd air base has to be declared a superfund site!  Thousands of gallons of toxic fuel and who knows what other chemicals dumped with impunity by the military.  They don't care--it's not THEIR home they are polluting!  Understand the unlimited arrogance and immorality of military activity--that they consider themselves entitled to land grabs.  Historic site?  Too bad.  They must continue to build their empire, that's how they have TRIPLED the defense expenditure in our federal budget since 1997.  Yes, tripled.  While our highways and schools languish, and after $1.3Trillion spent annually on this immoral folly--the middle class in the U. S. has disappeared.  Look at the resistance mounted around other mil bases--Key West, Norfolk, Whidbey Island; the people whose lives have been profoundly disrupted by this presence CAN fight and CAN prevail vs. the military.  Call and write your elected reps in Washington, D. C.  Tell them you want these bases closed as surplus.  There are hundreds of obsolete, unneeded bases that are way overdue to be closed.  Demand that Congress hold hearings to expedite the closing of bases--this fiscal year.  They are not good neighbors--their presence is a toxic hazard to every resident living in their vicinity. 

JF
JF

Your federal government loves you and wants you to be happy. Stop worrying and keep paying taxes.

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Doug Holdread
Doug Holdread

This is a FABULOUS article that more Coloradoans need to know about. It is a big deal. The Pentagon is trying to federalize and militarize the Southeastern corner of our state. It will cost all of us dearly if they succeed. Not only will it mean the destruction of irreplacable pre-historic and historic treasures and the elimination of a living cowboy heritage, but it will take away from our state to of the largest and most important alternative enegy generation areas for solar and wind. It would be a rotten deal all the way around if we end up using that land to increase our military capability to secure and control foriegn oil fields, rather than using it to secure energy independence for our nation. The ranchers of SE Colorado are not only fighting for their land; they are fighting for the sovereignty of our state and the security of our nation.

ArmsR4Hugs
ArmsR4Hugs

Yes indeed this is a fabulous article every American should read to have an awareness of the goal of the Five-sided Funny Farm to turn our nation into a Military State. There are deadly toxic substances at every military base. The ranchers must not cave in to the DOD; they must preserve their heritage once it is gone it cannot be recovered. My family had their land seized in 1942 that had been in the family since 1910 for a Navy base; quality of life has been in a steady decline over the decades with ever increasing loud invasive noise from aircraft. The DOD is attempting to limit the use of the land declaring Accident Potential Zones (APZ). There is a vast source of information on toxic contamination at: http://www.cpeo.org

 
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