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In 1983, the Department of the Army took 235,000 acres of Southeastern Colorado for training exercises. Now they want 7,000,000 acres of private ranch land and National Grassland.  And the national press, for some reason, will not investigate this outrage.

About three years ago, in response to what they claim is necessary for 21st Century military training, the Department of the Army announced a effort to acquire about 450,000 acres of the Purgatoire Valley in southeastern Colorado. The largest land grab in the history of the U.S. since the Indian Wars, this would be in addition to the 235,000 acre Pinyon Canyon site that they already own from the 1983 acquisition.

The response from the ranching community was overwhelmingly negative, involving a massive campaign to expose the military's broken promises since 1983, an exposé of a much larger initiative that would include almost 2 million acres, and a grassroots web-based organization to oppose the process. The Army, in response, has sent Pentagon officials to the region several times to plead their case. But ranchers, highly organized and angry, have met each visit with spirited resistance. During the summer of 2008, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the Army was forced to release yet another plan that outlined the acquisition of about 7 million acres, which encompasses the greater part of southeastern Colorado, including Comanche National Grassland.

Colorado legislators are split on the issue, some favoring the Army plan to spur economic growth in the state, others reluctant to disturb the longstanding agricultural interests in the lower Arkansas and Purgatoire River Basins. Senator Ken Salazar, recently appointed to Secretary of the Interior, has ridden the fence since his election in 2004, while his brother, Representative John Salazar has been a stalwart defender of the ranchers. Re. Salazar and Rep. Marilyn Musgrave have led the charge in the U.S. Congress to pass a moratorium on military spending on these acquisitions. Such moratoria have passed easily in both houses of Congress. Oddly, although the local press has covered the story repeatedly, the national news appears uninterested in this story. I have written notes to 60 Minutes and Front Line, asking why the largest land grab in the history of the United States is not of interest to the national press. Interested parties can find information at pinyoncanyon,com

Originally posted to Blacklight Sam on Fri Dec 19, 2008 at 08:21 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  they already own tens of thousands of acres (13+ / 0-)

    in California at Fort Irwin and China Lake  the type of terrain where the next battles of the next century are predicted to be fought, the middle east mountainous and desert land  why take valuable farm and grazing land? that does not duplicate any of the terrain they expect to have battles in?

  •  let them use (7+ / 0-)

    the Potomac Valley instead . . .

  •  If they do take it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AmericanRiverCanyon

    can we take back the huge swaths of Washington state that they occupy?  The vast Yakima Firing Range in central Washington would be good for starters.

  •  From an environmental stand point (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MKSinSA

    this would be a good idea, some of the most pristine wild lands are within military boundries. The Army is very strict about Enviromental management.

    For example in large tracts of land in Nevada we could have a million miles of erosive spider web ORV trails from civilians OR a few darts here and there.

    Same in CO, large tracts of untouched grasslands or enviromentally compromised ranch lands with their attendant Bovine implants.

    •  Absolutely Not !! (3+ / 0-)

      In Colorado alone -

      Rocky Flats is an environmental nightmare.
      Fort Carson is covered in tracks.
      Untouched?  It's the biggest myth out there.

      Outside of Colorado -

      In the Chesapeake Bay and on Culebra Island off Puerto Rico, bombing ranges not only have millions of piece of unexploded ordnance, but also all the environmental pollutants that come with heavy metals and toxic chemicals.

      And how about the Hanford Site in Washington or the Nevada Test Site.  And, of course, since these two places are top secret - we really don't know the level of radiation.

    •  Bad Idea Environmentally (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OHdog, polar bear

      They military has found ways with the help of the Bush administration to be above the law on environmental regulation. This could be a disaster. This is important flyway area for large numbers of migrating birds and waterfowl.

    •  mmmmm, if it weren't for the toxic chemicals (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nargel

      and radioactive debris in Nevada from atomic bombs dropped, I might begin to believe that the Pentagon might be strict environmental managers of Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and other western states. Large swaths of Utah, e.g., are a nuclear waste dump.  

      And if the Pentagon hadn't trashed so many pristine areas, it might also have environmental credibility.

      The following is from a 1996 AP story.

      Here is the breakdown of the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile:

      --At Tooele Army Depot, Utah, 13,616 tons in 1.1 million individual weapons. The chemicals are three kinds of mustard agents, five of nerve agents and lewisite, a kind of blistering agent. Tooele is the largest single storage site.

      --At Anniston Army Depot, Ala., 2,253 tons in 661,000 weapons. Two mustard agents, two nerve agents.

      --Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., 1,624 tons in bulk containers. Mustard agents.

      --Blue Grass Army Depot, Ky., 523 tons in 101,000 weapons. One type of mustard agent, two of nerve agents.

      --Newport Chemical Activity, Ind., 1,269 tons of the nerve agent VX in bulk containers.

      --Pine Bluff Arsenal, Ark., 3,849 tons in 123,000 weapons and bulk containers. Two kinds of mustard agents, two of nerve agents.

      --Pueblo Depot Activity, Colo., 2,611 tons in 780,000 weapons (mostly 105mm cartridges and 155mm projectiles). Mustard agents.

      --Umatilla Depot Activity at Hermiston, Ore., 3,717 tons in 220,000 weapons and containers. One kind of mustard agent, two of nerve agents.

      In addition, the Army has 1,134 tons of nerve and mustard agents in 292,000 weapons stored on Johnston Atoll, a U.S. Pacific Ocean territory in the 825 miles southwest of Hawaii.

      The overall figure of 30,599 tons is not the true total. It's only the amount of unitary chemical weapons in the stockpile, or those with one active chemical component. At Aberdeen, Pine Bluff, Tooele and Umatilla, the Army stores 680 tons of binary weapons, a newer and safer technology that is armed by mixing its two active components.

      The Army also said it has 13,630 tons of chemical agents not counted in its active inventory. Friel said these include chemicals in munitions used for testing or research and weapons confiscated from other countries. The Army doesn't know the exact content of these weapons.

      In addition, the Army disclosed that 9,697 tons of chemical agents are retained for defensive purposes and are not counted in the stockpile. These "research, development, test and evaluation agents" are stored at Aberdeen and at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, the Army said.

      Others have reported toxic leakages in these stockpiles, for example, at Fort Detrick and U. S. Army Chemical Research Development Engineering Center at Edgewood Arsonal, which anyone can read about in testvet's diaries.

  •  Let Them Have a Bake Sale - (0+ / 0-)

    And auction off the tanks for scrap metal.

    The days of Rommel and Patton are long over.
    Not only should the military NOT get this land - the armed forces should relinquish much of the Western land they already occupy.

    Build it and they will come.
    Whether a baseball field or a war.

  •  does anyone have a MAP of the area? (0+ / 0-)

    Anyone here have a link to a map that will show the area in question?

    I have close friends in Colorado, want to know how this affects them.

  •  Can diary author post a link and a comment please (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MKSinSA

    .... don't just post and run, give us some further reading and make a comment for a tip jar

    "Toads of Glory, slugs of joy... as he trotted down the path before a dragon ate him"-Alex Hall/ Stop McClintock

    by AmericanRiverCanyon on Fri Dec 19, 2008 at 09:39:38 PM PST

  •  WTF??? "A quarter of Colorado"??? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MKSinSA

    7 Million acres (or 10,938 sq. miles) is 10.5% of Colorado's 104,185 sq. miles, not 25%.

  •  No more destruction of our open spaces! (0+ / 0-)

    Where we need investment hugely is in the civilian world in the already populated areas where most people live.

    Tearing up the land or using it for whatever gawdawful testing of weapons etc is detrimental to focusing on what's happening in global climate change. When will we ever learn...

  •  Some facts... (0+ / 0-)

    ...from watching this closely in Colorado Springs.
    Army currently owns about 236000 acres down near Trinidad, CO (southeastern CO) as part of their maneuver area.
    Army wanted an additional 400,000 acres; revised later to about 100,00 acres after opposition from ranchers (and Ken Salazar delay in appropriations)
    Local village idiot, Congressman Lamborn (R-Moran) supports Army acquisition
    Total are would be about 340,000 acres, NOT millions as stated.
    Purgatory River watershed; rugged, wild canyons, beautiful area, not to be destroyed by tanks and shut off from you and me
    Many Native American archeological sites

  •  keith olberman where are you? (0+ / 0-)

    o

  •  Clarifications and emendations (0+ / 0-)

    I won't post and run. And while I exaggerated a little on the 25% of Colorado, it would certainly have an enormous effect on the whole quadrant of the state. My frustration is that this monstrous idea of the Pentagon's is getting no coverage in the mainstream press. As to environmental stewardship, I can make educated comment. I served for five years as the Community Co-Chair of the Fort Carson Restoration Advisory Board, and I saw it up close. The Army has a mixed record. On the one hand, when forced by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), Fort Carson set up a model response, hiring good consultants and ferreting out the old Solid Waste Management Units (SWMUs) for mitigation. They even found some nasty stuff that the State did not, and they spent some serious money cleaning up sites with high risk factors. This was great. On the other hand, the required Environmental Impact Statements for new acquisitions and changes of land use are an outrageous violation of the public trust. These documents use old field guide lists of biota and hardly represent any on-site analysis of wildlife, plant communities, invertebrate communities, soils, water quality, or damage assessments. They are cookie-cutter, boiler plate jobs that insult serious scholarship. And they propose to take enormous plots of land forever, once the unexploded ordnance are in place, as they are down range at Fort Carson. Gigantic plots of land will never be used as a result of danger to life and limb.
    Research by congressional aides as well as the ranching community cannot locate a single rancher who is willing to sell to the Army. All of the ranchers who own land on the current border of the Pinyon Canyon site have stood in public meetings, one by one, and declared that they will not sell a single acre. I was there to hear it.
    Thanks for the dialog, folks, and keep it coming. The pinyoncanyon.com site will lead you to maps, history, natural resources, and much more. I think they also have a related site that is called something like not one more acre, all as one word. Check it out. Blacklight Sam.

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