Mrs. MUSGRAVE. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to commend the chairman for his work on [Page: H6554]
this bill, and I would like to commend the ranking member for the yeoman's job that you have done, for the work you have had before you. I very much appreciate it.
In Colorado, we have a very unique situation. We have a maneuver site that the United States Army uses, and it is 236,000 acres presently. The Army is wanting to expand this by 418,000 additional acres.
If you drive in that area of our State, you will see this sign. This was created by a high school teacher from La Junta: ``Our land is our life. It is not for sale.''
As a very strong supporter of the United States military, but also a very strong supporter of our private property rights, I am opposed to this expansion, and my amendment would say that no funds in this bill would be used for the expansion.
A month ago in Colorado, our Democratic Governor, Bill Ritter, signed into law a bill to withdraw the State's consent to give up any land that the United States Army might acquire through condemnation. So there is a very strong message that comes from our State legislature, from our house and senate and from our Governor. But the most poignant opposition that I hear about is from the farmers and ranchers, many of them who have been there for five generations who will lose their land, who will
lose their way of life.
When you look at the opposition to the Pinon Canyon expansion, it goes on and on. But, interestingly enough, it is very diverse. The opposition comes from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. It comes from property rights groups. But it also comes from groups such as the Sierra Club, Colorado Springs Chapter. This is all over the political spectrum that this expansion is opposed.
As we think about what could happen in that area, it is interesting to look at the National Trust for Historic Preservation issues and their 2000 list of America's most endangered places: ``Pinon Canyon, Colorado. In Southeastern Colorado, under uninterrupted blue skies, Pinon Canyon is an area of scenic buttes, river valleys, family ranches and historic and archeological sites that span 11,500 years. The area is threatened by the United States Army's plan to expand its maneuver training ground
by as much as 418,000 acres, a move that could lead to forced condemnation of private lands and damage or destroy historic Santa Fe Trail monuments, ranches and historic and prehistoric archeological sites.''
That is what is at stake in southeastern Colorado. As we look at how much land the government already owns, in the red area you can see how much of our State is already government land in Colorado. The expansion of the Pinon Canyon maneuver site would be as large as the State of Rhode Island. It is striking.
Mr. Chairman, I yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Salazar).
Mr. SALAZAR. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentlelady from Colorado.
Mr. Chairman, today I rise as a proud veteran, as a son of a veteran and the father of a veteran. I am honored to be the only veteran of the Colorado delegation.
As an Army man, today I am saddened to rise in opposition to the Army's plan to condemn nearly half a million acres of privately owned ranches and farms in my district.
Pinon Canyon currently has a 235,000-acre training facility which Fort Carson utilizes in southeastern Colorado. Now the Army is seeking to expand the Pinon Canyon site by an additional 418,000 acres, utilizing condemnation as a power to do so. The Army's plans include taking this land by condemnation. If the Army succeeds, Fort Carson and Pinon Canyon combined will be larger than the State of Rhode Island.
Opposition to the expansion is unified, as the gentlewoman from Colorado stated. But when the Army acquired the original Pinon Canyon land in 1982, they promised local landowners that it would never be expanded. Now they are planning to take even more. The loss of 400,000 acres of ranch land, Mr. Chairman, would devastate the economy of southeast Colorado.
The BRAC decision of 2005 stated that the Army did not need additional space. In 1970, the Army first looked at condemning land in El Paso County, which is now in Mr. Lamborn's district for the original Pinon Canyon. Many residents from El Paso County fought against the possible land grab in their own backyard, and the site was eventually moved to southeast Colorado.
I would ask my fellow Members, if you can't support this in your backyard, please don't support it in my district.
Mr. EDWARDS. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Chairman, let me say this is with mixed feelings: I want to make it clear that I think the Army has responsibility to these communities in Colorado to sit down with them, work with them and work with the landowners, because it is my understanding that at one point the Army made the statement that it would not exercise eminent domain.
I also want to clarify that there is no money in this bill to allow for any acquisition of any land. The money in this bill could be used by the Army to pursue plans to later acquire land.
I respect Mrs. Musgrave and Mr. Salazar for their opposition, and I say that with great respect to you, Mr. Salazar, knowing of your service and your family's service to our Nation's military. The reason I personally oppose this amendment is that the Army sees Fort Carson as an important part of growing the Army, of bringing troops back from Germany and South Korea, of implementing the BRAC process, and the Army has identified up to 5 million acres worldwide that they
need for additional training operations.
Fort Carson is one of the tremendous beneficiaries of the BRAC 2005 process, getting two additional brigades that are moving from Fort Hood as well as additional forces there. So I am going to oppose the amendment because I believe it would stop even the planning process for even a smaller amount, much smaller than 418,000 acres. I understand why the gentlewoman and the gentleman are opposing what the Army's intentions are, but at least let's clarify that there is no money in this bill for land
I yield to Mr. Salazar.
Mr. SALAZAR. I agree there is no money for actual land acquisition, but there is money for the planning process. Do you agree with me that in the 2005 BRAC decision that the Army clearly stated they did not need any additional land in Colorado when they moved the troops from Fort Hood to Colorado to Fort Carson? Is that correct?
Mr. EDWARDS. Reclaiming my time, actually, this is the first BRAC round, in 2005, that I actually voted against. One of the reasons was that I felt the Army was making some decisions that weren't in the best interests of the taxpayers and the Army. But the Army made their decisions. The BRAC recommendations were passed by the Congress, and now they are being implemented. I do have some concerns despite my opposition to BRAC 2005 that if we totally stop the planning for this expansion, we could
seriously impact the training of forces during a critical time in the Army's history.
I respect the gentleman's position, and I am going to encourage the Army to sit down and meet with both Members who are sponsoring this amendment, and perhaps the gentlelady and gentleman can win this vote.
But if not, I am still going to encourage the Army to sit down and deal with the landowners and the people of Colorado, and the two of you in particular, to try to address this problem and the concerns, the legitimate concerns that you have raised.
Mr. LAMBORN. Mr. Chairman, I thank the ranking member for yielding me this time.
I rise today in opposition to this amendment which would cut off all funding to study an expansion of the Pinon Canyon maneuver site. This amendment would stop the Army from [Page: H6555]
providing the soldiers with much-needed additional training space, an action which could have serious negative consequences for the Army and for the brave men and women serving our Nation.
By prohibiting these funds, the Army would not even be able to study the area and complete an environmental impact statement. The purpose of an EIS is to assess the environmental, economic and other impacts of a proposed action before a Federal action is even taken up.
Private property rights are deeply important to me. Any option to increase the size of the PCMS should be thoroughly studied, and if plans for the expansion were to go forward, it should occur to the greatest extent possible, if not completely through willing sellers.
The type of enemy we are now facing overseas is much different than during the Cold War. PCMS contains terrain much like areas such as Iraq and Afghanistan. We are fortunate as a country to have this training area, but the Army has outgrown it. It would be a shame to not even study the possibility of using an existing facility that could easily be transformed into a 22nd-century facility. During the Cold War, divisions consisting of approximately 20,000 soldiers fought in relatively small areas
in Europe. Consequently, training could be conducted in areas of approximately 22,000 acres or 5 by 7 miles. Today, brigade-size formations of approximately 3,500 soldiers must now operate in and control areas of approximately 615,000 acres, or 31 by 31 miles.
While Army units have gotten smaller, the battlefield has gotten larger. We owe our soldiers proper training for the conditions they will experience in other combat theaters. Not allowing the soldiers to train adequately puts them in harm's way.
The Army is simply asking for an opportunity to study an expansion. To deny them this opportunity would be to substitute political pressure for the considered judgment of our military commanders who are charged with training and protecting our troops.
It is unrealistic and irresponsible to think other public lands in Colorado or the West, such as roadless wilderness areas or national parks, could be used as a substitute. No critic of PCMS has come forward with a responsible and specific alternative. The longer distances involved would also make that difficult.
Over 200 soldiers from Fort Carson have died in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting terrorism. The soldiers and commanders at Fort Carson know what it takes to wage war in the 21st century, and they are serious about it. It would truly be a shame if they don't have the proper training facilities so that they can succeed. The Army should at least be given a chance to study the issue and present their findings.
I strongly urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment.
Mr. WICKER. Mr. Chairman, I yield to the gentlewoman from Colorado (Mrs. Musgrave), but I would express to all of my colleagues, though, that we are receiving calls from people who have made airline plans and are hoping to get back to their districts and to their homes for Father's Day. Mindful of that, I am happy to yield to the gentlelady.
Mrs. MUSGRAVE. Mr. Chairman, I would just like to point out that my son-in-law served in Afghanistan, and I would like to commend Mr. Salazar, his father and his son for their service to this great Nation and point out that in the 1970s the land was thought about in the Colorado Springs area in El Paso County, and the landowners there fought it.
And so when anyone would imply that Mr. Salazar and I, Mr. Chairman, are responding to political pressure, what we are doing is standing up for private property rights and balancing that with our concern that our soldiers have the proper training.
It is like Mr. Salazar said, you oppose it in your own yard, but it is okay for someone else. I am standing up for those ranchers. You might as well cross southeastern Colorado off the map if this expansion goes forward. So I respectfully look at the opinion of my friend from Colorado and I do say, though, that in this country the government owns enough land. There are alternatives to this that would be satisfactory in balancing our support for private property rights and our support
for our troops.