GAO study slams Army on Pinon Canyon expansion - Rocky Mt. News Article
The Rocky Mountain News
Published January 13, 2009 at 12:09 p.m.
Updated January 13, 2009 at 12:09 p.m.
WASHINGTON - A new Government Accountability Office study criticizes the U.S. Army's approach to the proposed expansion of the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site in Colorado, saying a lack of early communication with nearby residents allowed rumors to run rampant.
The report, one of two being released today in response to congressional requests, also says the army's land acquisition approach is based on out-of-date strategic plans, and recommends periodic updates as well as new methods of keeping members of the public informed.
The Pentagon has faced vocal opposition from some residents of the area south of Fort Carson when word first spread that the army might be trying to add up to 418,577 acres of land to the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site.
Last summer, the army reported that it planned to limit the proposed expansion to 100,000 acres, but not before public outrage echoed by congressional opposition.
Congress asked the nonpartisan GAO to study what happened.
"Without adequate explanations, key stakeholders at times relied on rumors and leaked documents," one report concludes. "These information sources often did not provide a clear, complete or accurate explanation of the Army's need for and approach to acquiring additional land or of the Army's plans to also use other strategies to meet critical training needs."
In a written response, army officials called their approach to land acquisitions, including the one proposed for Piñon Canyon, were "fundamentally sound," but conceded that they would benefit from updating strategic plans and communicating more effectively.