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The House Judiciary Committee killed a bill by Representative Wes McKinley yesterday. McKinley had been trying to expand a measure that he successfully got through the legislature last year that limited the federal government‚€™s ability to condemn land to expand the U.S. Army‚€™s Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site. Under the bill, HB1182, McKinley had hoped to expand the limitation to include any large-scale project such as military bases anywhere in Colorado. Last month, the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee approved the bill on a unanimous 11-0 vote. However, the House Judiciary Committee yesterday disagreed, killing the bill on a 9-2 vote against it. McKinley said this year‚€™s measure was just like last year‚€™s, except that it took the concept statewide. He said, ‚€œLast year, we did this for Pinon Canyon for a large military expansion that provided some protection‚€Ě. The bill killed yesterday would have provided the same protection for all citizens of Colorado, McKinley said.
Not 1 More Acre, a coalition opposed to the army‚€™s plan to expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, plans to file a lawsuit today in federal court that challenges the 2006 environmental study the army used to make its claim that expanding the 238,000-acre training area is necessary. The lawsuit attacks the adequacy of the 2006 study on two points. First, that the study failed to look at all of the environmental, cultural and socio-economic impacts of expanding the training area. And second, that the 2006 study failed to look at any other training alternatives to putting more troops and more stress on the current site. The lawsuit requests that the army be forced to redo the transition study, essentially making the pentagon take a big step backwards in its legal roadmap for acquiring land.
Members of the San Luis Valley Association of Conservation Districts told Rio Grande Water Conservation District board members that water conservation efforts might hinder soil conservation efforts. Conservation district president Cathy McNeil told the water board at its quarterly meeting that retiring a great deal of land through the sub-districts would create ‚€œa serious erosion issue‚€Ě. Cindy Crist, a natural resources conservation services district conservationist added that the soils within the sub-district are highly erodable. She said only about 50% of the people in the sub-district are currently eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture programs so those who might wish to participate in soil conservation programs would need to come in to the NRCS office and develop a conservation plan. Water conservation district board president Ray Wright said it is important to get the message out, as there is already a problem with blowing dirt on edges of fields where the end guns have been shut off.
The State of Colorado Department of Local Affairs will grant the city of Alamosa $1 million to fund a new water storage tank, according to Senator Gail Schwartz of Snowmass Village. Schwartz said that the money will be available ‚€œin short order‚€Ě, however, she cautioned that there may be some planning that might still have to be done. The grant announcement comes just weeks after Schwartz voted against an amendment to the long bill that would have brought $262,000 to Alamosa but also cut staffing in DOLA‚€™s grant program. City staff will meet today to go over the details of the award and the planning needed to utilize the funds.
Nearly 40 Colorado City residents met face-to-face with the Pueblo County Board of Commissioners last night in Colorado City. Residents expressed concerns ranging from noxious weeds and fire protection to recycling, however, much of the comments concerned property fraud. Commissioners did pass two resolutions during the meeting‚€¶ the first to accept $180,000 in federal funding for the Department of Social Services and the second to accept $65,000 from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development for homeless treatment and prevention programs.
The second train derailment this month occurred on La Veta Pass last Friday night sending an unknown number of cars off the track. The derailment occurred on the same 300-foot section of track where at least four previous derailments have occurred this year. Trains were using the track again on Monday. No one was injured in either derailment this month.