Army mum on how many people are willing to sell for training site |

Army mum on how many people are willing to sell for training site

DENVER – The Army says it has been contacted by several people willing to sell land for a controversial expansion of a southeastern Colorado training site, but officials won’t say how many have stepped up or how much land they offered.The Army wants to nearly triple the size of the Pinon Canyon maneuver site, from 368 square miles to more than 1,000 square miles, saying the land is needed to accommodate expected growth at Fort Carson and changing training needs.Opponents, including some ranchers, worry the Army will use eminent domain to force landowners to sell.The Army told Sen. Wayne Allard last week it had found at least some willing sellers and did not expect it would have to force any transactions.Army spokeswoman Mary Ann Hodges declined to release any details about the willing sellers.The Army “has been informally contacted by several potential willing sellers; however, it is too early in the acquisition process to discuss specific land owners or acreage,” she said in an e-mail to The Associated Press this week.Hodges said the Army Corps of Engineers will formally identify and contact willing sellers as the process unfolds, but she said those sellers would not be publicly identified.The expansion could be years in the future, and the Army still needs congressional approval at several steps along the way. Several members of Colorado’s congressional delegation have raised questions about the project.Ranchers upset about the proposed expansion planned a meeting later Wednesday to show united opposition to the plan.The meeting comes nearly a week after the Army said it planned to expand the site to the north and west. Most ranchers who have opposed the expansion live south of the expansion area.Rancher Lon Robertson said owners who aren’t in the proposed expansion area want to show support for those who are, because removing agricultural land from production will affect the whole region’s economy.”We feel like we’re all being targeted,” said Robertson, whose ranch near Kim isn’t in the expansion area.

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