Stop the Pinon Canyon Expansion


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February 6th 1960  (Age 60)
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Thursday, February 22, 2007
The Takers

Some things are right or wrong because of the nature of the issue, not the politics of it and there are some things that affect us all or could affect us all.  One of these problems is the abuse of a doctrine called "Eminent Domain," sometimes called condemnation, expropriation or, most accurately, "taking."

While researching this I discovered that the actual doctrine of Eminent Domain is basically that a government has the right to "take" property it deems necessary for the public good.  It has always been the right of sovereign nations to do this and such a standard practice that the founding fathers did not address it in the Constitution.  Fortunately, George Mason of Virginia opposed the Constitution because it had no "Declaration of Rights," stirring up a debate that gave us the first 10 amendments, commonly called "The Bill of Rights."  And, like so many other of our rights, these founders had the foresight to include a clause in the Fifth Amendment saying "...nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."  We see by this clause that the practice was known and they sought to address it.  This and the 14th amendment, ratified in 1868, guaranteeing, "...No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

This entry was begun as a rant about a privilege which governments, even our very own government here in the United States, see as a right.  I suppose it may be, perhaps has to be, but it seems that in a free and Democratic society such as ours, the public, "We The People," ought to have a voice in such matters.  This is often not the case and it is often abused.  Yes, even here, in our country, even in the very state of Colorado.  As I was doing my homework for this entry, I discovered there are 10,000 documented cases of "Eminent Domain Abuse" in this country and one is right here in my own backyard.  One of the biggest land grabs in history is being attempted right here in Colorado.

 The U.S. Army is currently trying to take half a million acres, 418,577, to be exact, or 654 square miles (or 261,610 Eastern U.S. square blocks for you city dwellers), with the idea of eventually taking a total of 2.5 million acres, or 3906 square miles, an area roughly the size of Delaware, Rhode Island and Washington D.C. combined.  The Pentagon had originally put a moratorium on major land acquisitions like this but surprisingly enough waived it for the Army.  I thought I would go to the Army's website and see what they had to say about it, but the press release only states that the Army is going to purchase this much (418,577 acres) land.  Their site does not mention their further reaching plan or that there are ranchers that do not want to sell.  There are people who have been on the same piece of land for 5 generations.  And what if the land is not for sale?  The Army spokesman said in a news broadcast on KVOR that they have not and will not rule out getting the property by any means, including the condemnation and eminent domain process.  In other words, they will take what they want.  (Notice that sentence ended with a "period?"  Yep.  They will take what they want.  Period.)  Denver Post columnist David Harsanyi got it right with the title of his recent column, "Land Grab Gives Army Bully Image."  Because that is exactly what is going on here.

The Army is not only trying to take private property but is destroying a way of life as well.  I cannot describe in one blog entry about eminent domain what the great-great grandfathers of some of these men went through to build these ranches or the culture of the West.  If you want to understand the spirit of these men, you can read fictional accounts in almost any book by Louis L'Amour.  "Galloway," "The Daybreakers" and "Ride the Dark Trail" come specifically to mind.  While they are fiction, they do capture the character of these people.  Before the wagon trains, before the Santa Fe Trail, before Horace Greeley's admonition, "Go West, young man," there were the ancestors of these men and women in Southeastern Colorado, opening the way for this great nation to expand.  Great way to pay 'em back, I guess, "Oh, sorry, Mr. Pioneer Rancher's Ghost.  You helped make this country what it is today, thanks, but we're going to steal your land back now."

I have always been a big fan and supporter of the Army.  As any one who has ever stopped by this blog knows, besides having stinky feet, I consider myself a Flag-Wavin', Right-Wing, Gun-Totin', Hetero-Christian-Pro-Life-Love-The-Army-Support-The-Mission-Conservative, but what they are about to do here is wrong and abuses a power that should be administered sparingly, when at all. 

 While some of the ranchers are willing to sell, many do not want to and many can't, because potential (private) buyers back out when they find out what the Army is trying to do.  My question is also, "What is the public good?"  Who are "The Public" and how will they benefit?  Shouldn't the people who actually live in the area, the citizens of the towns and counties that are affected, be considered part of "The Public?"  Whose good?  The good of the Army, maybe, but that's about it.

The Army claims they will be bringing in 10,000 soldiers and this will help the Colorado Springs economy, but I would like to know, since the average private only makes $18,000 a year, which is at or below poverty level and certainly not addressed in the minimum wage bill just passed (figure frequent 20 hour workdays here and then divide the 18,000), will this be a real big boost to the economy?  Probably not, except that there will be more pizza delivery drivers and convenience store clerks as most people in the Army need other jobs to support their families.

So, five generations of work, not to mention that the area is full of places of

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
archaeological and anthropological
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
One of the largest sets of dinosaur tracks is in the area as well.

Wagon tracks from the Santa Fe Trail are still visible here (the grass hasn't grown back over 100 years later) so, ecologically and environmentally, what will happen if tanks start maneuvering here?  Of course the Army will promise to protect these things, but what about the livelihoods of the ranchers and farmers in the area and the small towns and small businesses that depend on them?  What about the previous promises the Army has made?  The Pinon Canyon website, details how well the Army kept them.  Read the Pinon Canyon website; talk to some veterans or most any Indian about how well the government keeps its promises even when you keep your side of the deal.

So, what do you do if the U.S. Army says that they need your property and will get it by any means including stealing it (I was always taught that if you "take" something that doesn't belong to you, that's stealing), even though your family has been there since before the wagon trains?  Since before the area was even a territory of the United States?

The hope that we have lies in the fact that besides being a Democracy, "Of the People, By the People, For the People," our country is a Representative Republic.  The Army, while being an authorized arm of the Government, is not the Government.  Go right now and check out .  Give it a thorough going over.  The site offers a comprehensive look at what is going on here.

There are a number of representatives who are conscientiously working to define more carefully how this power may or may not be used, but they won't know it's important to you unless you tell them.  The great thing about the Internet is that you don't even have to get up from where you are at right now.  You can visit the U.S. Senate, The House of Representatives, the Whitehouse and the Supreme Court in mere seconds.  State, county and local governments also have websites which you probably have used.  You can be an activist and never have to leave the comfort of your computer desk and find out how your specific elected officials feel about this issue.  Ask 'em.  Then ask what they are doing about it.

I apologize that this is a longer entry than I have done in quite a while, but it is important to me and I think it should be important to everyone else, too.  Please consider putting a link to on your websites and e-mail it to everyone you know.  I encourage all my readers to write about this problem or the problem of Eminent Domain Abuse, especially the ones that agree with me.  Hahaha!  That was just a joke, but you know, I seldom if ever "tag" anyone with meme's so instead, please give this some consideration.

Remember, the good Book says, "Thou shalt not steal."

Photos used by permission of and hosted on

Posted at 2/22/2007 3:33:10 am by logansackett

February 27, 2007   11:39 AM PST
I realize that you could discuss the topic for weeks and not hit all of the highlights.

What I find scary, is the supreme courts ruling I think last year that said they local governments can use the doctrine of ED to sieze your property and give it to another private party becuase they will generate tax revenue.

What the hell?
February 27, 2007   05:32 AM PST
Thanks for stopping by!! I don't blame you for wanting to leave this here a while longer. Too bad it can't be posted in the newspaper, along with the REAL truth behind what is really going on. Some things we won't know until it is way too late. America, land of the free. Free to what? Be stolen from, free to not pray in public, free to not dicipline your cildren, free to not question your government, free to not voice opinions of Biblical moral values??? OK!!! Then I guess, we are 'free' after all!!!!
February 24, 2007   10:24 AM PST
Of the many things that bother me about the way freedom is being taken away from "We the People", eminent domain is something that really burns my butt! And this pinon canyon thing hits close to home as a Colorado resident and former Trinidadian.

Lori Holdread, Lori Holdread, I'm trying to think if I know a Lori Holdread.....
February 24, 2007   07:30 AM PST
I've only driven through that part of the country. It is beautiful. Stand tall and keep spreading the words of unity!
February 23, 2007   08:28 AM PST
Thank you, Herb, for posting this!!
I am a Trinidad resident, and I can tell you that half the 237,000 acres they ALREADY HAVE was stoeln in the 80's using ieminent domain condemnation. At the time, they used an old lady as the "poster child" for "willing sellers", threw a party in her front lawn as they were kicking her out of her home, took pictures for the papers, and called her by the wrong name throughout the proceedings. She was humiliated to the core. The current threat is stirring up buried heartbreak and anger that is palpable, and can be seen on ranchers faces here in Trinidad, in Kim, Hoehne, Swink, Rcoky Ford, and La Junta. Those in the area of interest are paralysed, literally not knowing whether to fix their fences and replenish their herds. Those outside "the area of interest" are just as upset at the prospect of losing neighbors.

Hundreds of ranchers, and the agri-business infrastructure will devastate our small communities and school districts down here.

We are fighting tooth and nail, and we are organized, but we don't know if there is hope that we might prevail. Salazar needs to oppose this initiative, and stop waffling on it. The army does NOT need this land. It is, in our opinion, a bif=d for primacy for Ft. Carson to become the biggest, baddest traiining site, and beat out Fts Bliss and Irwin. It is shameful that they would sacrifice our communities and our culture down here, because our numbers are smaller, we have less political clout and just because they CAN.

We are willing to travel to do presentations and awareness raising seminars, if you know entities that want to help.
Check the site for info, and God Bless Colorado!

Lori Holdread- Trinidad
February 23, 2007   04:13 AM PST
So what is it (the column never spells it out) that the Army seems to think it needs to 'take' over 400,000 acres of Colorado land for? Is the Army saying that for every extra troop brought in, 400 acres of land is needed to support him/her?

Me thinks not.
February 23, 2007   01:17 AM PST
"Flag-Wavin', Right-Wing, Gun-Totin', Hetero-Christian-Pro-Life-Love-The-Army-Support-The-Mission-Conservative" Wow. That's a big title. :) I hope it's okay if I don't fall neatly into all of those categories. In any case, I support you whole-heartedly about this. It horrifies me that a person's right to have his own home, his own land, etc., is being infringed upon. HELLO, WHAT HAPPENED TO THE AMERICAN DREAM?! I can't imagine what I would do if someone told me everything I had worked for was being confiscated "because we said so." The sad thing is, we give corporations, governments, and other large, organized groups these powers... Under false pretenses! Yeah, somebody needs to maintain order, but when we start to examine the methods... Well, excuse the cynical twenty-something. I suppose I'll grow out of it in time. Take care, I'm rooting for you!

February 22, 2007   05:02 AM PST
Your entry brought tears to my eyes. For one thing, why does the Army need so much land? Maybe you said it, but, I am still asleep and don't remember... I am totally against this kind of thing, unless it is deemed necessary, and that much land to me, is not necessary for any one project. Sadly, we don't live in a 'free' country anymore. Our rights are taken away everyday, but, it seems the immoral 'values' are rampant to the point where a decent, moral citizen is deemed 'wrong' or 'uncompliant'. This country was never meant to be as it is today. The only thing we can count on, unfortunately, is that it will only get worse. The Bible says that. So, I will keep you and your state in prayer, and I will come back and read all about this so I can see what is in the making.

I don't usually do 'tags', but this one I sent you seemed like it could be fun, and we all need to smile, don't we?? Love you, Herb. I pray all works out for you and your neighbors.

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