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Modern Day Range War

Letter from Doug Holdread

Pinon Canyon – October 2007 – Colorado Central Magazine

Dear Editor:

There’s a range war raging in southeastern Colorado. It’s not between cowboys and sod busters. It’s a clash between a ranching culture that has worked the fragile short grass prairies for over a century, and a military culture that has a track record for turning large hunks of the earth into toxic wastelands; it’s between traditional agriculture and the military-industrial complex.

We find ourselves fighting to defend our land and our way of life against an invasion by our own military. Ranching families are praying that they will not be forcibly removed from their homes so that the Pentagon can turn our region into a huge, live-fire zone.

There have been other culture-clashes around here. Back in the 1860s the natives were in the way of the gold around Denver. So they were forcibly removed by the military.

In 1914, coal miners went on strike, demanding safer working conditions. The military was sent in to protect the interests of the coal companies and the result was the Ludlow Massacre.

This time it’s not gold or coal, but oil. The Department of Defense says it needs the southeastern corner of Colorado to train troops to defend multinational petroleum interests.

In the 1800s Easterners saw the Indian Wars as something far removed from them. The Coal Field Wars were also looked upon as local skirmishes by people up in Denver. Now we worry that the current clash between ranchers and the military might be viewed as a local struggle between landowners and the government.

But the human rights of Native Americans, miners. or ranchers are never just local issues. There are core principles at stake. The struggle in southeastern Colorado is not local. It’s about global wars for the control of oil.

We’re asking all Coloradans to stand with us to protect our State’s arch├Žological, historical, natural and cultural treasures from being plundered.

The Colorado legislature recently withdrew our state’s consent for the military to seize our land by eminent domain. The U.S. House of Representatives has approved an amendment blocking funds for the expansion of Pi├▒on Canyon. Now it’s up to our two senators to make sure that this amendment stays in the bill.

Please tell them to protect Colorado’s heritage from this military land grab so that we can use our land to produce food and to generate wind and solar energy to free us from our dependence on oil.


Doug Holdread