Army faces roadblocks on Pinon Canyon expansion

Congress is working on a plan that would bar the U.S. Army from expanding into the prairielands of Pinon Canyon.

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a measure that requires an act of Congress for the Army to take over the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site, according to the Denver Post.

The training site is a satellite of Fort Carson, 90 miles away. The site was developed in southeast Colorado in the 1980s. About half of the land was acquired by eminent domain.

The Army says it needs to increase the 368-square-mile Pinon Canyon site to about 1,000 square miles to accommodate the troops being transferred to Fort Carson. It has said it would be too expensive to ship the soldiers elsewhere for training.

However, ranchers and landowners in the area have been fighting the plan for years. They say the expansion would take too much land out of agricultural production, damaging the economy. They also fear the Army will force them to sell their land, despite assurances from the military that it hopes to get the acreage from willing sellers

The Pinon Canyon site is used for training about four months per year, according to court records.

The measure still needs Senate approval.