by Pam Zubeck
A ban on money for acquisition of the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site is included in the FY 2011 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations, U.S. Reps. John Salazar and Betsy Markey announced in a press release.
The measure drew criticism from El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark when asked to comment on it.
Over the weekend, the Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies completed its work on the FY2010 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act reporting the act out of committee by voice vote preserving the Piñon Canyon funding ban for another year, Salazar and Market said in the release. It also noted Salazar has used his position as the third most senior member of the subcommittee to lead the fight against expansion.
"I came to Congress to defend agriculture and fight for residents of the 3rd Congressional District," Salazar said in a statement. "I will always defend the interests of landowners in Southern Colorado who have been living under the cloud of expansion for far too long. As a 5th generation farmer and rancher, I understand their deep connection to the land and will do everything in my power to protect their rights."
Clark says the measure is bad for El Paso County and the state.
"From a local standpoint, I know we would be opposed to the complete ban, especially if there were wiling sellers, there wasn't eminent domain requested, and essentially there was an opportunity for willing sellers to sell their property," she says in an interview.
"More than that, we once again are sending a symbolic message to Washington, D.C. that our military is not important," Clark continues. "I think it's a very dangerous path when you see that Fort Carson brings $1.9 billion to our state each year."
She also notes Carson could attract additional resources, such as an air brigade, that would add to the state and local economy.
Clark called the Salazar/Markey measure a signal that Colorado "is thumbing its nose at the military."
"From El Paso County's and the state's perspective, that's a very dangerous path to go down when we're in an economic downturn in this state," Clark says, adding, "We need to work together as as state and various communities, and there needs to be an economic benefit to those who are most affected by the expansion, but this is not a good bill. This is the wrong message at the wrong time."