June 03, 2024

Bobcats Released in SE Colorado

Our friends at Wet Mountain Wildlife received these bobcat cubs last year, and in May they were released near where they (or at least one) were found, at the Army's Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site (PCMS) northeast of Trinidad.

PCMS was created in the late 1970s (officially opened in 1983) when the Army wanted more area for mechanized-warfare training than was available at Fort Carson, Colorado Springs.

Fort Carson itself was created by expropriating some ranches south of town during World War II. The "city fathers" of Colorado Springs wanted to bring military spending to their quiet town of 35,000 or so population -- and they got it.

The founding of PCMS was a more bitter process. Various areas were considered, including South Park. In the end, several large ranches near the Purgatory River were taken by eminent domain despite some landowners' efforts to fight the takings in court. Others just took the money.

The Army has sponsored some goodwill tours for politicians, journalists, etc. but I have visited PCMS as a hunter. There are some hoops to be jumped through, but it is possible to hunt there (and on Fort Carson itself).

With an older friend (a rancher/retired schoolteacher) I made several trips to PCMS in the 1990s, before his passing. We signed up to hunt quail, but mainly we were visiting some of the archaeological sites, the ruined stage station from the Barlow and Sanderson line, and more recent ruins like the 1920s–1930s Colorado Interstate Gas pipeline-construction camp, which has played new roles during Army training.

On one trip we drove up to an empty ranch house. A lot of equipment had been left there in a barn. 

The back door of the house was unlocked, so we walked in. There was furniture in place, kids' toys on the floor, and a 1975 Sears, Roebuck catalog lying on the kitchen counter, all covered with a light layer of dust and sadness.  Was this the home of a family who fought to stay or one who took the money and walked away? 

We could only turn and go back out the door, kind of creeped out, feeling like intruders.