Mark Udall, who serves on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, and Assistant Secretary of the Army Katherine Hammack announced today that the U.S. Army will not seek to expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site and will withdraw its request for a land acquisition waiver that had been a longstanding concern for area residents. The Army's decision followed a request by Udall to study the issue and ends years of uncertainty over the possibility that the Army would expand its footprint at the site. The announcement came as Udall, Hammack and southern Colorado leaders met today following months of negotiations.
"This announcement is a win for Southern Colorado ranchers and residents who have long worried that they could be displaced from their land if the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site were to be expanded. It's also helpful for Fort Carson soldiers who need assured access to the existing maneuver site to prepare for combat. And by proving that we can put aside our differences to resolve controversial issues for the good of all, it's a big win for Colorado," Udall said. "I have worked for years with the Army and local residents to develop a solution that would protect private property rights while ensuring that Fort Carson's soldiers will continue to benefit from the outstanding training environment that Pinon Canyon provides. Putting this unpredictable issue to rest has been one of my top priorities as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and I'm proud to have led such a giant step forward for our soldiers, our ranchers, and our state."
"I am pleased to announce we have completed our analysis," Hammack said. "The smaller Army force structure and smaller training land requirement have enabled the Army to request that the Office of the Secretary of Defense rescind the land acquisition moratorium waiver."
Udall has been a strong advocate for soldiers and residents of southern Colorado and previously worked with the Army to lay the groundwork for the withdrawal of the land-acquisition waiver. Udall also introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that makes it clear the U.S. Army cannot expand the site without specific approval by Congress and a thorough environmental study. This follows years of effort by Udall to secure assurances from the Army that it will not expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site.