Will the Army send drones over Pinon Canyon...and beyond?

Look out below! For almost a decade, Doug Holread and the Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition have been alert for any furtherArmy incursions into Pinon Canyon, a stunning swathe of rangeland in southeast Colorado. Last year, a senior Army official assured ranchers that the Pentagon has no plans to expand the sprawling, 367-square-mile Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site that the Army uses for training. But the Army's request for a new environmental impact statement has Holread worried not about another land grab, but trouble from another another direction entirely: up.

Holread things the Army's request for a new environmental impact statement for the PCMS regarding helicopter and drone training might mean incursions in private air space.

The Army's EIS notice includes this:

Advances in equipment and weapons systems, to include their incorporation into tactical units, dictate changes in how the Army trains, alterations to ranges (including range air space) for maneuver training and doctrinal changes to accommodate mission-essential training prior to global deployments.,,This reclassification is required to conduct integrated and realistic air and land training and to accommodate high-angle, indirect fire-weapon systems and airborne laser target sighting system training."

"My concern regarding the use of drones at Pinon Canyon has to do with the difference between the boundaries of PCMS on the ground, and the Pinon Canyon Military Operations Area, MOA, which is three times the size of the maneuver site itself," Holread says. "When you put all of this together, it suggests that southeastern Colorado, including Las Animas County, has become a vast military testing/training range, much of it occuring within private air space."

And he's created this handy video elaborating on his concerns:

More from the Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "An unlikely posse of politicians wants to save Pinon Canyon from a bad guy: the Army."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun