Has the Army's Controversial Mission to Expand its Piñon Canyon Training Site Finally Failed?

May 2009

The latest chapter in the Army's long-and-drawn-out controversy to expand Fort Carson's training grounds in southeast Colorado could be the last. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the top-ranking Republican on the Senate's Appropriations Committee, wants the Army to "pull the plug" on plans to expand the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site and to instead send troops to Fort Bliss in her home state of Texas. That's according to the Pueblo Chieftain, which notes Hutchison told an El Paso, Texas, television station she has told top Army officials giving up on Piñon Canyon is "what the people of Colorado want, what the people of Texas want, and what I want." Louis Hansen, a deputy assistant Army secretary for infrastructure, says the Army still holds hope for enlarging the Piñon Canyon site, but also acknowledges officials are looking at other training options involving other Army posts. Additionally, earlier this week Congressman Mike Coffman, a Colorado Republican, told The Denver Post that his Democratic colleagues, Representatives John Salazar and Betsy Markey, were planning legislation to permanently ban expansion of the site, fearing it would harm southern Colorado's economy. Moreover, Governor Bill Ritter recently signed a bill that would bar the leasing of certain state lands to the Army, a measure meant to impede the Army's plans (via 5280).