Will the Army send drones over Pinon Canyon...and beyond?

Categories: News

Look out below! For almost a decade, Doug Holread and the Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition have been alert for any furtherArmy incursions into Pinon Canyon, a stunning swathe of rangeland in southeast Colorado. Last year, a senior Army official assured ranchers that the Pentagon has no plans to expand the sprawling, 367-square-mile Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site that the Army uses for training. But the Army's request for a new environmental impact statement has Holread worried not about another land grab, but trouble from another another direction entirely: up.

Holread things the Army's request for a new environmental impact statement for the PCMS regarding helicopter and drone training might mean incursions in private air space.

The Army's EIS notice includes this:

Advances in equipment and weapons systems, to include their incorporation into tactical units, dictate changes in how the Army trains, alterations to ranges (including range air space) for maneuver training and doctrinal changes to accommodate mission-essential training prior to global deployments.,,This reclassification is required to conduct integrated and realistic air and land training and to accommodate high-angle, indirect fire-weapon systems and airborne laser target sighting system training."

"My concern regarding the use of drones at Pinon Canyon has to do with the difference between the boundaries of PCMS on the ground, and the Pinon Canyon Military Operations Area, MOA, which is three times the size of the maneuver site itself," Holread says. "When you put all of this together, it suggests that southeastern Colorado, including Las Animas County, has become a vast military testing/training range, much of it occuring within private air space."

And he's created this handy video elaborating on his concerns:

More from the Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "An unlikely posse of politicians wants to save Pinon Canyon from a bad guy: the Army."

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Piñon Canyon and beyond is not "a vast dry land of nothing."  It is a treasure trove. Besides being one of the most productive beef production regions in the State of Colorado, it is an irreplaceable heritage landscape full of prehistoric and historical sites. Over 4000 archaeological sites have been identified within the maneuver site, with over 600 of them eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. The region has also been identified by the Governor's Energy Office as prime generation areas for wind and solar development.  If you've traveled through the region on the highway you may not have seen the spectacular canyons that comprise much of region's landscape, but are hidden below the seemingly flat vistas of the prairie. Before the Army took the land back in the 80's the region was being considered for designation as a National Natural Landmark. 

John Martinez
John Martinez

Have you ever been to Pinon Canyon? Beyond is a vast dry land of nothing.

davebarnes topcommenter

Piñon and not Pinon

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