If the Pentagon’s plan to turn Southeastern Colorado into a vast live-fire range were about economics, it would be a bad idea. But for those of us who live in the targeted region it’s not about economics; it’s about patriotism.
Patriotism is the love we feel for our homeland. It’s the willingness to stand together with our neighbors in defense of the heritage and values of our forefathers and mothers. It’s our appreciation of the unique beauty and history of the landscapes that we call our own. In opposing the expansion of Pinon Canyon we are doing our patriotic duty.
If Pinon Canyon expansion were about economics it would be the most unenlightened self-destructive and unsustainable approach to economic development imaginable. The destruction of agriculture, our most consistent economic sector, the depopulation of our land, the spoiling of our environment and the federalization and removal of private property from our tax-base would all work against the long-term health of our economy. Any short-term financial gains by a few would be more than offset by devastating long-term loses by all.
But it’s not about economics for us. We don’t believe that the military should ever be used as a tool of economic development. Nor should the lands and livelihoods of hard working Las Animas and Otero County residents ever be sacrificed for the sake of a few government contracts.
From the perspective of the Pentagon bureaucrats who hatched the plan to turn our region into a big playground to try out new weapon systems, land is just land. They don’t care, and may not even know that the land is the home of multi-generational ranching families. They may not be aware that the Santa Fe Trail passed through this land and that it’s the cradle of Colorado history. They would probably prefer it if the place was not covered with thousands of historic and prehistoric archaeological sites. It doesn’t matter to them that the red rocks canyons are beautiful; ugly would do just fine as far as they’re concerned. All they want is a big hunk of real estate to create a Department of Defense training and testing range so that defense contractors can try out their wares.
But for the patriots of Southeastern Colorado, all of this does matter. We will never allow our homeland to be invaded and destroyed for the sake of providing a testing ground for the likes of Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon and Boeing.