The war is over and Dan Sharps is doing a body count. In a thicket of pinyon and juniper trees, something big and violent has cleared a path.
Photo: David Mayfield.
“Lost arm,” Sharps says, gesturing toward one tree clipped of a big branch. “Lost leg,” he says, pointing to another.
Straight ahead lay the splinters of what was a large pinyon — a hearty tree but not when stomped on by an Army tank. “I’d pretty much call that one a fatality,” Sharps pronounces.
At the Army’s Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site in southern Colorado, this shaggy, red-bearded range conservationist has a tough job — to fix the damage done by the hundreds of tanks, armored fighting vehicles, and trucks that play war games on this fragile land several times a year.
Think of him as a mechanic with 237,000 acres to repair. Sharps, who works for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has been the backbone of land restoration at Pinon Canyon since shortly after the Army opened the maneuver site in 1985. He is the only year-round resident of the installation... Read more