Thursday, July 10, 2008

Save Colorado ranch lands!

I grew up on a ranch in southeastern Colorado. While I don't want to be a rancher, it's an important part of my heritage, and I'm proud to support those who try to make a living in a tough economic climate with hard work and determination.

Unfortunately, the US Army is trying to make it even harder! If you aren't familiar with the Pinon Canyon site and proposed expansion, I encourage you to visit also urge you to sign the petition, even if you don't live anywhere near Pinon Canyon or eastern Colorado!

The fact is, I DO support our servicemen and love our country. What I don't understand is why the Army wants to take Colorado land from ranchers and turn it into a live fire range! Aren't there ACRES of desert in Nevada, Arizona or New Mexico that are inhospitable to everything but scorpions and rattlesnakes? Why not use those instead of ruining land that actually can sustain grass? In reference to my point, I recently got an email from "Not 1 More Acre!", a grassroots organization trying to fight this expansion:

July 9, 2008

Letter to the editor
Chicago Tribune

Anyone even remotely familiar with the Army's efforts to destroy 1,000 square miles of native grasslands in southeastern Colorado will find the picture of an environmentally friendly military created in your story "Army's challenge: Be lean, mean - and green" (July 5) to be greenwash.

Despite the clear opposition of local ranchers and counties, the Colorado state legislature, and Congress, the Pentagon remains hell-bent on tripling the size of Fort Carson's 238,000-acre Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site to create a high-tech multi-service battleground roughly four times the size of the city of Chicago. The proposal to dramatically increase the number of live-fire exercises, heavy vehicle traffic, pyrotechnics and the use of incendiary and highly toxic weapons systems will devastate the last intact shortgrass steppe in the American Great Plains.

Grasslands are now the most endangered ecosystem on earth and the interconnected grassland ecosystems of southeastern Colorado and northern New Mexico are of local and global significance. At stake is the key role the shortgrass steppe plays as precious and unique wildlife habitat, as a hedge against another Dust Bowl, as a recharge area for critical groundwater supplies and as an important form of carbon storage and gas recycling for a planet imperilled by global warming. The region's unique combination of canyonlands, forested mesas and grasslands contains critical riparian systems that support a diverse range of flora and fauna found nowhere else. These ecosystems - now functioning in equilibrium - cannot be replaced if destroyed.

The Army's expansion would also force generational family ranchers from their lands, people who have a long history of working sustainably with the land and of making a vital contribution to the food security of the nation.

It is well past time that our national political leadership put an end to the Army's real estate take-over of southeast Colorado. Hybrid Humvees and solar panels are no compensation for the irreparable environmental harm the Army's grandiose expansion will visit upon this unique environment.


Andy Stahl
Executive Director

Purgatoire, Apishapa & Comanche Grassland Trust
Not 1 More Acre!
PO Box 773
Trinidad, Colorado 81082

The fact is, there is already a huge maneuver area in the Pinon Canyon area. I bet it's big enough for plenty of tanks, hummers and other vehicles and soldiers. It's the expansion big enough to make it a live fire range that has me worried. My great-grandfather collected over 3,000 indian arrowheads and other artifacts from the area. In fact, his collection is in a museum in Trinidad. There are many native american artifacts that will be damaged or unreachable if this expansion goes through. It's a bad idea from an environmental, historical, economical, political and relational point of view!

Also under threat are the largest dinosaur track sites in the US, pictographs made by the region's original inhabitants, Native American sacred sites and Hispanic placitas. Scars carved into the landscape from wagons traveling on the Santa Fe Trail are reminders of the fragility of the native grasslands. The threat of military takeover prompted the National Trust for Historical Preservation to place the area surrounding Piñon Canyon on its list of America's most endangered historical places.

Copies of all relevant legislation and other documents can be found at

Please consider supporting keeping Colorado ranch and grass lands in the hands of their best trustees: the Colorado ranchers!

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