The Pueblo County Board of Commissioners made official its opposition to the U.S. Army’s plans to expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver site Tuesday.
In a resolution passed unanimously by the three-member board, the county joined ranchers and other opponents of a plan to expand the Army’s training grounds by 414,000 acres.
Commissioner Jeff Chostner, a retired Air Force colonel, expanded on his comments from a March 27 meeting in which the commissioners indicated they would stand with the ranchers and other county officials against the Army’s plans.
"I took the opportunity to drive (Colorado 10) and it gave me further resolve to support this resolution," Chostner said. "This is an absolutely gorgeous part of Southern Colorado and I’m afraid it will be completely cut off from the public."
Chostner mentioned states like Nevada and New Mexico, where the federal government and military operations have gobbled up scores of acres over the years.
"I don’t want to see that happen in Southeastern Colorado," he said.
Chostner added that he believed that allowing the site to expand was an economic gamble, trading the predictable economic benefits of longtime ranching operations with what he termed "nebulous" benefits of soldiers coming to the area from Fort Carson and other points in El Paso County.
Finally, Chostner noted that he believed the Army doesn’t need the extra acreage because the soldiers currently deployed in the Middle East and other areas are already adequately trained for their jobs.