|Here are the facts: |
|Grazing and Rangelands: |
|Rangelands account for 61% of land surface in the United States and 70% of land surface world wide. |
Grazing by large ruminants is a keystone process of the grassland ecosystem. A keystone process is one that has significant impact on the entire ecosystem. Grazing begins with the plant-grazer interaction but the effects of grazing are critical to species at all levels of the system.
Perhaps there were once concerns about over grazing however the many benefits of the sustainable generational ranching practices have proven invaluable to eliminating that concern. In addition there has been continual long term (generations) efforts to properly care for and improve the overall health of the grasslands through careful management of our sacred natural resources.
Grazing is absolutely necessary for healthy grasslands. In a world without buffalo and with fences and roads the management of grazing determines it’s positive and negative affects.
|1. ||A grassland ecosystem responds the same to cattle grazing as it does to bison grazing |
|2. ||Sustainable generational ranching families depend on the ecosystem they manage for their livelihood. They maximize economic production by maximizing ecosystem health. |
|3. ||Those sustainable generational ranchers in Southeastern Colorado have a wealth of cultural/historical knowledge that guides them in grazing management. These decades and centuries old knowledge based ranchers interact with the land daily and gather monitoring information on their livestock and grasslands that guide their management decisions. |
|4. ||Results from the preliminary independent study being performed by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP) show that southeast Colorado rangelands under private management are in extremely good health and harbor a multitude of rare plant and animal species |
|plants developed defenses against grazing, for example thorns on cactus or the production of poisons. However, other plants developed symbiotic relationships to grazing animals. For example many species rely on grazing to spread seeds in manure, to insert seeds into the soil through trampling, or to stimulate root activity by grazing the plant. |
|Plants extract nutrients from the soil and through photosynthesis produce cellulose and lignin. Cellulose and lignin are very stable organic molecules that decompose very slowly. Grazing animals play a critical role in the nutrient cycle by breaking down plant matter and returning nutrients to micro-organisms in the soil. |
|Habitat Structure: |
|Grasslands, like forests, have successional sequences of plants and associated organisms in the soil. Grazing is a necessary and minimal disturbance that locally rewinds the successional sequence. Local disturbance and “out of sequence successional regimes” lead to greater plant and animal diversity. For example these local structural variations are critical to many bird species that might nest in open areas with high visibility but require thicker taller grasses or shrubs for feeding habitat. |
|As a Wildlife Biologist who has worked throughout Eastern Colorado for 3 years I would like to lend my personal support to the Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition. |
The expansion of the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site would have severe negative economic, ecological and cultural impacts on the proposed expansion area. I have visited many landowners within the proposed expansion area, all of whom are excellent land stewards with a genuine concern for at-risk and declining wildlife species found in the region. Conservation on private lands has long been tradition among ranchers and farmers but it has only been in recent years that widespread acceptance of advice and financial assistance from conservation organizations both government and non-government has occurred. Acquisition of lands by the Department of Defense (DOD) would further erode the relationship between agricultural producers in the region and any government entity that may provide assistance in the conservation of private lands in the future. More importantly it would remove and displace generations of land stewards from the ecosystem of southeast Colorado, a system that in most cases relies on the activities (i.e., grazing) of livestock to maintain its fitness.
How much land does the DOD need for training exercises? In the arid southwest states of Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah there are over 5.5 million acres in DOD ownership or 32% of the DOD holdings in the nation. Is that not enough?
(Source: http://www.maineenvironinentorg/ documents /publiclandownership.pdf)
I believe in a strong national defense but as a nation we should find it unacceptable to displace the people of southeastern Colorado for such an excessively large training area. Please accept my personal support for the Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition.
Seth Gallagher Wildlife Biologist
|There is no question the environment, the agriculture based economy, and the Army playing war games all on the same piece of property is not compatible. |
|Here is part of a speech given by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and reported in the Chicago Tribune on May 16th of 2003: |
|"The federal government is America’s biggest polluter and the Department of Defence is the government’s worst offender. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, unexploded ordnance waste can be found on 16,000 military ranges across the U.S. and more than half may contain biological or chemical weapons. In total, the Pentagon is responsible for more than 21,000 potentially contaminated sites and, according to the EPA, the military may have poisoned as much as 40 million acres, a little larger than Florida. That result might be considered an act of war if committed by a foreign power." |
|These comments were made earlier this year at a time when the U.S. Defence establishment was attempting to have more of its activities exempted from environmental laws in the US. Bob Feldon of the economic think tank, Dollars and Sense, wrote earlier this year that: |
"The U.S. Department of Defense is, in fact, the world’s largest polluter, producing more hazardous waste per year than the five largest U.S.. chemical companies combined."
|Indeed, even members of the US military and the Pentagon itself have admitted that the military bases in the US are an environmental catastrophe. Admiral (ret.) Eugene Carroll, before the First International Conference on US Military Toxics and Bases Clean-up in 1997 stated in reference to Cold War rationale: |
"In a mindless, criminally negligent process, we poured resources into military expansion both at home and abroad without any regard for the environmental consequences. Pollution was ignored on the grounds that "national security" took absolute priority over all other considerations."