The Army's plan to add 418,000 acres to its Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site should not displace ranchers and farmers, but condemning private land may be necessary as a last option, U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn said Thursday.
"The Army needs to go out and explain why their mission of training soldiers for the defense of our country requires the added space. I believe they can make that case and make it well," said Lamborn, a Republican whose 5th Congressional District includes Fort Carson's main post in Colorado Springs but not Piñon Canyon, northeast of Trinidad.
Lamborn said he encourages the Army to acquire land through leases, easements and buying only from willing sellers.
But he added that he would support condemnation and taking of private property by eminent domain if it were the Army's last option.
"If they make a good argument that this is important for the mission of training soldiers for the 21st century, then I'll support that," Lamborn said.
Lamborn outlined his position in a meeting with reporters as he opened a new congressional office in Colorado Springs.
"You do have two competing vital needs. One is the protection of private property. But national defense is also a compelling need that the federal government has," Lamborn said.
Rocky Mountain News, Denver CO: http://www.rockymountainnews.com