More study urged for Carson helicopter unit


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On Monday, the La Junta City Council adopted a resolution calling for an Environmental Impact Statement for the Combat Aviation Brigade coming to Fort Carson, noting that the less-intensive study being done is "woefully inadequate."


The Army conducted a more cursory Environmental Assessment, which concluded no significant impacts from the CAB. But elected leaders in southern Colorado, including those from Otero, Las Animas and Prowers counties, have asked that an EIS be undertaken and have written letters to Carson's garrison commander, Col. Robert McLaughlin. McLaughlin will decide whether to approve the EA or order a more exhaustive EIS.

The La Junta resolution states that the EA "simply advises 'no adverse effects,'" and that the "large number of CAB maneuvers are actually planned outside of the boundaries of the military installations implying an expansion of Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site that we fervently oppose." (The PCMS is roughly 235,000 acres located in southeastern Colorado.)

The resolution also states: "Many effects will thus occur far outside the Area of Potential Effects (APE) yet in the Environmental Assessment the Army defines the APE as only encompassing the boundaries of Fort Carson and the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site" and "the APE should include the entire geographic area within which an undertaking may directly or indirectly affect the character and/or use of all such properties."

It goes on to contend that social economic impacts, noise, vibrations and visual impacts haven't been considered or evaluated.

"Therefore, the city of La Junta does not concur with the Army's finding of no adverse effect and considers the Environmental Assessment woefully inadequate," the resolution says.

Fort Carson spokeswoman Dee McNutt says the Army soon will post the EA online and reopen public comment on the document "very shortly," though there won't be any public meetings about it as there were earlier this year.

"Absolutely we will take all public comments under consideration for the NEPA process that we're doing on the CAB," she says. NEPA is the National Environmental Policy Act.


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