Contact: Meghan Harris Russell, Executive Director
(719) 846-9412
34 West Main Street, Suite 12 
Trinidad, CO  81082
ed@tlac.net  ,   www.tlac.net

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PASSES RESOLUTION OF OPPOSITION TO PINON CANYON EXPANSION

Trinidad, CO (June 21, 2007) – The Board of Directors for Trinidad-Las Animas County Economic Development, Inc., recently passed a resolution of opposition to the expansion of the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site.  The Resolution reads as follows:

RESOLUTION

A RESOLUTION OF

TRINIDAD-LAS ANIMAS COUNTY

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, INC.,

OF TRINIDAD, COLORADO,

 IN OPPOSITION OF THE EXPANSION

OF THE U.S. ARMY’S PINON CANYON MANEUVER SITE

 

WHEREAS, the mission of Trinidad-Las Animas County Economic Development, Inc., is to increase community prosperity through economic enhancement activity in the City of Trinidad, the County of Las Animas and all communities therein; and

WHEREAS, the organization’s Business Retention Program goal is to continuously and consistently understand the value of existing businesses [and industry] to the community and local economy and be proactively supportive of their needs and desire to succeed; and

WHEREAS, Trinidad and Las Animas County businesses [and industry] are Trinidad-Las Animas County Economic Development’s “personal passion” and the organization functions on the concept of “Think Trinidad & Las Animas County First;” and

WHEREAS, the agriculture industry represents approximately $14,601,450 of Las Animas County’s Assessed Valuation and is comprised of 567 Farms/Ranches in Las Animas County with a Market Value of Production of $20,887,000 annually, crop sales accounting for $761,000, livestock sales accounting for $20,126,000 of the total annual value, and representative of over 1000 individuals directly employed in agriculture; and


WHEREAS, the University of Colorado at Boulder Leeds School of Business, the Economic Development Council of Colorado (EDCC), and the Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade conducted a Targeted Industry Study for each County in the State of Colorado; identifying future economic growth opportunities for Las Animas County as Agriculture, Healthcare, Tourism, and Renewable Energy.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF TRINIDAD-LAS ANIMAS COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, INC., THAT:

 

  1. The Board supports the significance and long-term/ongoing influence of agriculture, and its impact to other industries, in Las Animas County including, but not limited to, tourism, healthcare, renewable energy, and small business development/support, to name a few. 

 

  1. There are 2,304,766 acres of agricultural land in Las Animas County and an expansion of 418,000 acres of the existing 237,000 acres would eliminate approximately 18% of said available lands from agricultural production.

 

  1. According to U.S. Army Base Realignment & Closure Division’s (BRAC) 2005 Recommendations, “The Commission’s independent and objective analysis showed that, with or without including Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site in the accounting of acreage, Fort Carson still has more contiguous maneuver acres per brigade combat team than Fort Hood.”

 

  1. Fort Carson foresees “no significant job creation” in the region/area of influence.

 

  1. The U.S. Army and Department of Defense has not been forthcoming in ways and means by which to keep the economies of Las Animas County “whole,” let alone provide additional benefits to the County in the areas of job creation/growth, local business contracts, Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), or other economic factors.

 

  1. The U.S. Army has not and will not rule out the use of “eminent domain” in an effort to acquire land in the “area(s) of interest.”

 

  1. Many services provided in Las Animas County are dependent on levels of population.  With a potential loss in population/displacement of population of those in the area of interest and in the surrounding area, many of the services currently being provided in the County could be eliminated due to this population decline.

 

  1. Existing landowners in the “area of interest” that may be “willing sellers” to the U.S. Army for the expansion are currently suffering economic loss due to the announcement of the potential expansion, including the normal market rise in value of the land due to capital investment, economic trends and factors, etc., thereby reducing what would be considered “fair market value” for the land to be acquired.  Additionally, this announcement has significantly reduced the level of capital improvements occurring on these properties causing an increase in deferred maintenance, thereby making properties less desirable to a prospective buyer.

 

  1. Eliminating 418,000 additional acres of land from the County’s tax rolls equates to a permanent loss of revenue that will NEVER be regained.

 

  1. The Board is grateful to the Army for acquiring and cataloguing various artifacts, native specimens, and other various historical treasures found in the existing Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, however, the acquisition of an additional 418,000 acres of property only increases the number of artifacts and tourism-related pieces that are no longer a part of the local area’s history and cultural pride.  The Economic Development Board remains concerned about the continual transportation of native artifacts to museums located at Fort Carson, thereby eliminating numerous tourism opportunities from the Las Animas County area and creating a need to promote and encourage additional tourism from the local area out of the County and to Colorado Springs where they can be viewed “by appointment.”

 

  1. Lastly, as there has been absolutely no evidence to the contrary relating to long-term economic stability and benefit to Las Animas County, the decision by the U.S. Army and Department of Defense to move forward with the acquisition of 418,000 acres in the area surrounding the existing Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, in Las Animas County, has clearly impeded Economic Development’s ability to promote the organization’s mission and fulfill it’s obligations as it relates to the Business Retention goals outlined above.  This act leaves the Board of Directors no alternative but to define Economic Development’s opposition to the expansion.

 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board of Directors for Trinidad-Las Animas County Economic Development, Inc., hereby opposes any action by the U.S. Army to expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site and urges the U.S. Army to seek out a more appropriate, less economically devastating location to provide the necessary training military troops/soldiers so desperately need.

PASSED AND ADOPTED THIS 20th DAY OF JUNE 2007.

While an official Resolution has been passed by the organization, Economic Development will continue its efforts to obtain information regarding the proposed expansion and the economic ramifications that such an expansion would have on the Las Animas County area.  To that end, Economic Development remains committed to its mission and goals as they relate to this vital issue affecting the County and will continue to track the situation as new developments unfold.

For more information on the Economic Development Board, potential volunteer opportunities, more detail on Economic Development’s 2007 Goals, or specific projects please contact Meghan Harris Russell, Executive Director for Trinidad-Las Animas County Economic Development at (719) 846-9412 or via email at ed@tlac.net.  Visit Trinidad-Las Animas County Economic Development online at www.tlac.net.

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