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Leaked documents show Army's bold plan to acquire 10,000 square miles of Colorado

Ranchers who've run cattle in southeastern Colorado for generations first started hearing rumors of possible expansion of the site in 2005. In fact, prompted by a growing concentration of troops at Fort Carson because of base closures and realignments, the military had been studying acquisition of additional land for years before that. But locals' first clue of the scale involved came in the form of a leaked map that looked a lot like this one: The map, which appears in a 2004 planning document, shows a series of phased-in purchases over many years, starting with modest strips of property adjoining the current site. But the entire deal would eventually encompass 6.9 million acres -- that's more than 10,000 square miles, a tenth of the entire state's land area. The Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition promptly translated this into a more vividly colored map, on view below, to give a better idea of what the Army had in mind: The 2004 planning document states that the PCMS is ideally situated to become a training center for all the armed services -- and allied forces as well: "Given its size, remote location, diverse terrain, and infrastructure, PCMS far surpasses the training experience of any Combat Training Center in CONUS." (That's the contiguous United States, soldier.) The move would involve displacing a population of at least 17,000 civilians and transferring the Comanche National Grasslands from U.S. Forest Service to military control, but the study predicted that holding large-scale training exercises there "will be a positive change and natural wildlife habitation possibilities [will] increase."

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