by Pam Zubeck
An Environmental Assessment (EA) of the Combat Aviation Brigade coming to Fort Carson in the next year or two will be front and center from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday night the at Crowne Plaza Hotel.
It's the third public meeting to be held on the EA, which notes no significant impacts from the 113-helicopter brigade. Defense Department officials have said the brigade means 2,700 more soldiers at Carson. Local businesses and government officials have vigorously supported the new unit.
But not everyone is thrilled. Ranchers around in the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site in southeast Colorado, which will be used by the brigade for training, aren't convinced the CAB is a good thing.
Local peace activist Bill Sulzman sent us a dispatch from the first meeting about the EA, held in Trinidad on Monday. He tells us the Army is already changing the plan by adding seven concrete landing strips at the maneuver site. "The EA had stated there would be no new construction at PCMS," Sulzman says in an e-mail.
He also reports that the Las Animas County Commissioners released a letter in which they asked for a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for this project as opposed to the less detailed Environmental Assessment (EA). The Army didn't say one way or another Monday night, but it's doubtful. An EIS is much more thorough and time-consuming than an EA.
More from Sulzman:
The proposal still does not contain mention of the dozen or so Gray Eagle Predator style attack drones which are listed as being a standard part of the package of a Heavy Combat Aviation Brigade such as the one coming to Fort Carson. A followup Q&A with a Fort Carson officer clarified that. By the time they complete the project in 2 years they expect to have Gray Eagles. This would be a second example of stuff being added. Earlier they had said they needed 7 concrete Landing strips. It is clear that once they start the actual building more things can be added. Cost is apparently not an issue.
The next day, Tuesday, Carson folks met with Trinidad businessmen, as reported by the Pueblo Chieftain.
Tuesday night, the Army took its EA show to Otero Junior College in La Junta. Tomorrow night, it will come to Colorado Springs, where it probably will be greeted with its most friendly audience yet.
El Paso County commissioners last year adopted a resolution in support of the brigade, and Commission Chair Amy Lathen had this to say in her State of the Region address on Dec. 14 at a Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce luncheon:
“Let’s remember how well we all worked together to secure the new Combat Aviation Brigade at Fort Carson. Delegations led by the Chamber with EDC, El Paso County, Colorado Springs Utilities and many of the businesses represented in this room today met with military leaders at the Pentagon and congressional leaders on Capitol Hill more than once to make sure that those decision makers understood all that our region has to offer and our unique community commitment to Fort Carson, Peterson Air Force Base, The Air Force Academy, Cheyenne Mountain Air Station and Schriever.”