Ranchers demand answers on the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site

 

Not 1 More Acre! Seeks Documents in Federal Court

 

For Immediate Release

Contacts: Lon Robertson, Not 1 More Acre!

Steve Harris, Merrill, Anderson and Harris, LLC 719-633-4421

 

KIM, Colorado – An alliance of Southern Colorado residents and others will file papers today in federal court demanding that the military produce records documents regarding the proposed expansion of the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site between Trinidad and La Junta.

 

Ranchers joined by Native Americans, conservationists, archeologists, paleontologists and other concerned citizens, working through the nonprofit organization Not 1 More Acre!, first requested information from the military on December 11, 2006. Under the Freedom of Information Act, a government agency has 20 days to respond to any request.

 

In this case, the military has yet to respond 66 days after the FOIA requests were filed, leaving the coalition to wonder what the military is hiding.

 

The FOIA requests were filed in response to a Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed expansion that was released in October. Not 1 More Acre! sought additional information in order to submit a statement within the initial public comment period, which has since been re-opened.

 

The public comment period closes tomorrow and Not 1 More Acre! still has not received any of the information needed to meaningfully comment on the DEIS.

 

The military operates on 25 million acres of real estate in the United States, including the 238,000-acre Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site. With the proposed expansion of 418,577 acres, it would become the largest military training site in the world.  This is only the first phase of a 2.5 million-acre expansion reflected in a military map secured by the opposition.

 

“What do they need to do on this land that they can’t do on the 25 million acres around the nation they already have?” said Lon Robertson, a spokesman for Not 1 More Acre!

 

The proposed expansion includes 165 million-year-old dinosaur tracks, petroglyphs carved by the area’s original inhabitants, the richest archaeological resources in Colorado outside of Montezuma County (the locale of Mesa Verde), Apache and other Native American sacred sites, Hispanic Placitas and the last short and native grasslands in the American Great Plains. There are even ruts carved into the landscape from wagons on the Santa Fe Trail. All of these spectacular historical treasures and more are threatened by war training.

 

Yesterday, the Pentagon waived a moratorium on land acquisition to allow for the proposed expansion at Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site. In commenting on the waiver, a Fort Carson spokesman said the military would “actively seek public comments to ensure that all interests are heard before any decisions are made.”

 

Not 1 More Acre! has requested records relating to the moratorium, the environmental impact of the current site, and correspondence between the military and the Department of Wildlife, the U.S. Geological Survey and other agencies. Since the information has not been forthcoming, those concerned about the expansion have been forced to turn to the court for help.

 

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