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In planning another story on Fort Carson's desire to expand its training grounds, I originally intended to return to southeast Colorado.

But then there was the other story (see page 14), involving lonely ol' Colorado Springs, the "military town" where reporters often quote city slickers saying how great Army expansion would be for the Pikes Peak economy.

In talking about growing the Pion Canyon Maneuver Site from 235,000 acres to 650,000 acres, Fort Carson has stuck to a complicated party line based on "Army transformation." At some point, robots become involved. One official describes the expansion in an analogy involving pigs and chickens.

Compare that to the "heart-wrenching" stories that moved Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., to rally Congress against studying the expansion. Ranchers face losing their livelihoods. Their land holds ancient rock art, dinosaur tracks and bones, a fascinating landscape, slices of the Santa Fe Trail.

So it's no surprise, says a former Fort Carson colonel, that Colorado Springs is losing the battle for Pion Canyon. He says the Army has a good case for wanting the land if only someone could figure out how to make it.

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