When Fort Carson proposed expanding its Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site in 2003, nearby ranchers worried. The 235,000-acre training ground, in southeastern Colorado, was slated to grow to more than 650,000 acres, and though the U.S. Army promised to work with "willing sellers," locals feared land seizure through eminent domain, as happened in the 1980s when Piñon was established ("Eminent domain's poster children," HCN, 10/15/07). The Army dropped expansion plans in 2009, but retained a waiver from a moratorium on major Defense Department land grabs, and environmentalists and ranchers protested the uncertainty.
On Nov. 25, the Pentagon formally repealed the waiver. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and other Colorado congressmen had long urged the Army to do so, and Udall and Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., amended a defense spending bill to require a congressional vote on future expansions of Piñon. Rancher Gary D. Hill, a Las Animas County commissioner, told the Denver Post, "Part of the dark cloud has been removed that we were living under for the past six or seven years."