TRINIDAD — The Military Construction Subcommittee of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee last week voted to continue the funding ban on “any action that relates to or promotes the expansion and size” of the Army’s Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site (PCMS) in northeast Las Animas County.
Because the U.S. Senate has not placed a permanent ban on expansion of the PCMS, the House must act each year on the funding ban. The continuation of the ban is expected to be part of a larger military construction budget bill that must first be passed by the full House of Representatives and then the Senate before it can go into effect.
The Army has conducted several large-scale training maneuvers at the PCMS since it first opened in 1983, including those involving tanks, armored personnel carriers and other large military equipment. However, the Army recently announced federal budget cuts may mean no more significant training exercise at the site for some months.
Expansion opponents — such as a local group known as Not One More Acre! (N1MA!) — have been contesting what it believes are the Army’s plans to expand the PCMS over a much larger swathe of territory in southeast Colorado. The Army in the past has denied that any immediate expansion plans exist. Opponents believe there are secret plans to expand across the fragile prairie ecosystem.
The funding ban was first instituted by Congress in 2007.
The renewal of the ban came as N1MA! filed its third challenge against the Army’s PCMS environmental disclosures in the past six weeks. The protest was made to a report titled “Programmatic Environmental Assessment and Draft Finding of No Significant Impact for the Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan 2013-2017 for Fort Carson and the PCMS.” It and other information can be found on the website www.not1moreacre.net.
On April 15, N1MA! filed objections claiming the Army had not fully disclosed construction plans that would support expansion at the PCMS.
N1MA!’s latest protest charges the Army with continuing to “piecemeal its plans for the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site in an effort to sidestep basic requirements of the funding ban, the National Environmental Policy Act and a 2009 Federal District Court ruling that vacated the PCMS Transformation Record of Decision issued by the Army in its original efforts to expand the site.”