2009 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: Fri, 18 Dec 2009 09:57:18 -0800 (PST)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] EXPANSION: GAO report on Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site (CO)
Defense Infrastructure: Additional Information Is Needed to Better Explain the Proposed 100,000-Acre Expansion of the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site
GAO-09-171 January 13, 2009

[To view the original summary or link to the full report, go to


In 2007, the Army announced that the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) had approved its request to expand its Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, Colorado, by acquiring up to an additional 418,577 acres. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 required the Army to address 29 provisions related to the expansion in a report to Congress. In July 2008, the Army reported that, although it had revalidated the requirement for at least 418,577 additional acres at the maneuver site, in response to community, cost, and other concerns it now proposed to limit the acquisition of additional training land to 100,000 acres. The act also required GAO to review the Army's report and the justification for the proposed expansion. This report examines the extent to which the Army's report (1) addresses the provisions of the mandate and (2) explains the selection of the 100,000-acre site. GAO compared the mandate requirements with the responses in the Army's report, met with Army officials to discuss the expansion, and visited the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site and Fort Carson.

While the Army's 2008 report on the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site generally addresses the provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, the report is lacking certain information that would help clarify six of the Army's responses to the mandate. For example, the Army provided a list of all the training activities that occurred at Pinon Canyon from May 2007 to April 2008, but this information does not indicate how much of the training area was used, nor does it indicate whether any of these exercises were performed simultaneously. Therefore, the report is not clear regarding how much of the maneuver site was used for training in a given month or annually and whether the units could train simultaneously. It is also unclear how this information was used to support the required analysis of the maximum annual training load without the proposed expansion of the site. Without additional information on the mandated provisions, it is difficult for Congress and the public to fully understand six of the Army's responses to the mandated provisions. The Army's report does not fully explain the current selection of the 100,000-acre site. Following are examples of specific issues not addressed in the Army's report: (1) The Army reported that it has reduced the amount of land it intends to purchase from 418,577 to 100,000 acres but did not explain its basis for selecting fewer acres or the specific site. (2) The estimated cost per acre used for internal planning to acquire additional land at the maneuver site has increased since 2007 but the Army's report does not discuss this increase. (3) The Army completed the required analyses when requesting OSD's approval for the up to 418,577-acre expansion, but has not completed an analysis for the current 100,000-acre proposal that would help to understand, among other items, how much of the 100,000 acres would actually be used for training, what type of training can be conducted, and what are the estimated costs to maintain the 100,000 acres. Army officials said that these questions and others would be difficult to address without the analysis required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. Although the Army issued the mandated report, Army officials stated that, to date, the Army has voluntarily declined to spend other appropriated funds to begin the National Environmental Policy Act process due to congressional concerns about the potential effects of the proposed expansion. The officials further stated that uncertainty over congressional support for the potential expansion made a delay in expending funds to start the National Environmental Policy Act process appear to be prudent. Without the benefit of the analyses and information on how the Army identified the 100,000 acres currently being proposed for acquisition, especially in light of the growth in the estimated price per acre, it is difficult for Congress and the public to evaluate the full benefits and costs associated with the proposed 100,000-acre expansion.


Lenny Siegel
Executive Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
a project of the Pacific Studies Center
278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918

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