Pressure from grassroots opponents of the U.S. Army’s attempt to seize 420,000 acres of privately-owned land in southeast Colorado is starting to produce some results in Washington. While he’s been a lukewarm supporter of Colorado ranchers in their fight with the Department of Defense as it seeks to expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, US Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) is feeling the heat now that the November elections are less than six weeks away.
Salazar made the following statement condemning eminent domain just weeks after the Democratic National Convention.
“I continue to strongly oppose the use of eminent domain to expand Pinon Canyon in southeastern Colorado,” Salazar said. “The Army has said it would not use that power if the expansion were approved, but I support any measure that would put this promise into law.” He added that the Army must follow due process with all the attendant studies and impact statements, something ranchers say hasn’t been the case thus far.
“Before any acquisition occurs with taxpayer dollars, we must honor the process we put in place last year to get answers from the Army on whether they even need the land or, if they acquired the land, what effect it would have on southeastern Colorado,” Salazar says.
According to the ranchers caught in the middle of all this, Salazar’s opposition is good but not good enough. They say a checkerboard land grab would make the acquisition of other ranchers’ land a certainty because it would devalue adjacent parcels as well as those in the immediate vicinity.