12:53 pm - Friday December 15, 2017

Trinidad audience baffled by Gardner’s position on Pinon Canyon protections


Gardner won’t support both funding ban and his blocking amendment



Ranchers kept asking but Rep. Cory Gardner kept refusing Tuesday.

“My amendment is stronger,” the 4th District Republican told about 40 people at a meeting here at Trinidad State Junior College. “The only language I could offer that would be stronger is an amendment to the Constitution.”

He was talking about his surprise amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act last month to require a vote of Congress before the Army could expand the 238,000-acre Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site in the future, plus votes to spend the necessary money.

“That’s three levels of protection (against expansion),” Gardner said, insisting that is a better barrier against the Army than the six-yearold annual funding ban on expansion that former Reps. Marilyn Musgrave and John Salazar first put in the federal budget in 2008.

But veterans of the Pinon Canyon fight were puzzled why Gardner won’t support both.

“We’ve got to have all of it, Cory,” rancher Stan White told Gardner. “Don’t eliminate the funding ban.”

“Both will make us that much stronger,” a woman called out.

In an interview with The Pueblo Chieftain after the meeting, Gardner said he drafted his amendment to end the year-to-year uncertainty of whether lawmakers would keep the funding ban in the budget.

“My amendment does that,” he said.

Asked if he believed the Army would ever renew its campaign for more land around Pinon Canyon, Gardner said Army officials have assured him they have dropped those plans.

“I don’t think the Army will ever come for more land,” he said Tuesday.



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