Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ranchers in Colorado's Piñon Canyon fight a massive Army land grab

Reason Magazine reports:

But Louden, an activist for the group Not 1 More Acre!, puts up with the inconvenience. What the cause asks for, ranchers like Louden give. The alternative is the end of life as they know it. Publicity is a powerful if uncomfortable weapon for people accustomed to their privacy, for whom property lines and personal space are more important than mere law. In the asymmetrical war these ranchers are fighting, they use any weapon they can, because theirs is an opponent that tends to win: the U.S. Army. The Army already occupies 245,000 acres of Colorado’s desolate Piñon Canyon, which it uses for large-scale, force-on-force mechanized brigade combat exercises involving tanks and armored units. But since 2006 Uncle Sam has had his eye on at least 418,000 acres more, to handle increased demand for maneuvers and the expansion of Fort Carson. Most of that land is private property in the Comanche National Grasslands lying between the rustic ranching towns of La Junta, Trinidad, and Walsenburg. The proposed annexation, which would create a contiguous Army-owned area 85 percent the size of Rhode Island, has attracted loud opposition from local landowners, environmentalists, scientists, and politicians. Their combined efforts were enough to gain a congressionally ordered reprieve in 2007, but the Army appears determined to wear them down. In fact, the training ground expansion may be just the first phase of an enormous land grab potentially involving millions of acres. The Army’s land envy is why Louden, the 58-year-old son and grandson of Colorado ranchers, closed Marty Feeds, a Trinidad landmark for almost a century, in the summer of 2008. He could run a ranch, run a business, or fight the land grab, but not all three at once...I've covered this issue from the beginning. This article provides an excellent history of the issue and is well worth your time.

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