Peter and Wing asked me whilst they were here to visit the last couple of days about the signs they saw on the highway on the way into town.
"This Land Not For Sale To The Army"
"No Pinon Canyon Expansion"
This, understandably, confused them. This issue hasn't really made a lot of waves as far as I know outside of the state of Colorado.
But, perhaps it should.
Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site is a training site for the US Army, located outside of Trinidad. Take a moment and look that up on google. Got it? Good.
The initial map of proposed expansion to occur over the course of five years, detailed that they would expand that site from where it currently is, roughly to the southern Colorado state line, east to the Kansas state line, and north to US Highway 50.
And kick everyone out.
Since I live within the area that would be, by the original plan, "acquired" in year five of this plan, and most of our land is in the "future expansion area" I sort of have a problem with this. (A map leaked to the public detailing the original draft of the plan can be found here The LaJunta Tribune-Democrat found it to be a bit obscure so they did their digging and made it a bit easier to read here.)
It's been an uphill battle for farmers and ranchers in this area to oppose this, without being painted as anti-military. We aren't. We're anti land-grabbing.
Some of the "sparse population" has been on their land for generations. Many ranchers can take you to the crumbling adobe or sandstone-block hut where their grandfather or great grandfather or his father homesteaded their land, and they're proud to do so.
This is their heritage, their livelihood, and their love.
The area targeted also feeds half a million to a million people, annually.
The people here, and all across the proposed expansion area, are tough. They work hard every day to make a living and they, being among what some would consider "throwbacks," don't take kindly to the idea that anyone, even the Army, would come and attempt to take their homes and the land that they love from them.
So they've created the Pinon Canyon Opposition Coalition to make their voices heard. Those are the signs along the highways, bringing attention to an issue that shouldn't be hushed up.
Seventeen thousand, two hundred and sixty three.
That's the number in the Army's own proposal (released October of '08 see it here) used as an estimate for total "displaced population" at the end of phase five.
6,914,328 acres in total. Functionally, the entirety of southeastern Colorado.
So far, congress has refused funding. Next year, that may change, and thousands of people, including myself and the Farm Fam, may be "displaced."
Look at the information, look at any information you can find, and make up your own minds, but for me, there's no question.
This Land Is Not For Sale To The Army.