Pinon Canyon "Working Together" event teaches grassroots lesson in military-expansion battle

In the long struggle by southern Colorado residents opposing expansion of the Army's Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, one of the most striking aspects of the story has been the broad range of support for that effort, which has united local ranchers, environmentalists, preservationists, business interests, lawmakers and others. That's one indication of the huge stakes involved -- a little-known area of the state that happens to be rich in history, ancient cultures and endangered species.

But it's also a tribute to the canny mobilization efforts of the opposition groups. At one point, the Army was drafting plans to acquire up to 10,000 square miles of the state and displace 17,000 people; getting that story and the telltale documents to the media was one of several ways the folks who live near the site have managed to get the attention of the rest of us.

The battle is far from over. These days the Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition, Not 1 More Acre! and related groups are closely watching an evolving Air Force proposal to conduct intensive low-altitude training flights over southern Colorado. And later this afternoon, some PCEOC stalwarts will be speaking to the Colorado College Nonviolence Club about how they brought together diverse groups in the community to take on a massive military bureaucracy.

The "Working Together" presentation features ranchers Grady Grissom and Steve Wooten, preservationist Rebecca Goodwin and artist Doug Holdread. It's scheduled for 4:30 p.m. in the WAS Room in the Worner Center, 902 N. Cascade Avenue, on the CC campus in Colorado Springs.

More from our News archive: "Pinon Canyon: Scott Tipton gets ban on military expansion restored."

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast