A measure to slow down the expansion of Pinon Canyon has cleared another hurdle. The debate is over the Army's efforts to buy about 500,000 acres of private land to expand the military training site.
A senate committee passed a bill Monday, which essentially says that the federal government cannot take the land from the ranchers unless the state okays it.
Dozens of ranchers don't want the military to expand Pinon Canyon into their property, ranchers like Mack Loudin. “If you take away 418,000 acres, you're going to lose a whole region. Is that something the state of Colorado and ultimately, the United States wants to see happen?" He's just one of the many who testified before a senate committee asking them to pass a state bill that would could prohibit the federal government from taking their land.
Expanding Pinon Canyon could mean dozens of families would be forced to move. But retired Air Force Major General Wes Clark says their sacrifice would help the soldiers have a better training site. "It needs a training area that simulates the tempo, the distance, the intensity and complexity of the current and future battlefields. The army must train the way it's going to fight. It can't train in close quarters and then go over long distances, the results would be chaotic."
The bill goes to the full senate this week. Some state lawmakers aren't sure if a state law can trump federal law and stop the Army from using eminent domain to buy out the property owners.