California's popular Johnson Valley riding area may get reprieve from military base expansion
December 19, 2012
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- Riders who
use the popular Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Riding Area in California
may not lose most of the area to a Marine base expansion after all, the
American Motorcyclist Association reports.
The military is barred from spending money on expanding the Twentynine Palms
military base into Johnson Valley until it completes a report on how the
expansion would affect off-highway riding, under a military spending
authorization bill approved by U.S. House and Senate conferees on Dec. 18.
"The report to Congress would cover the impact on off-highway vehicle
recreation in the Johnson Valley region, along with alternatives for achieving
the goals of the military and the OHV recreation communities," said Wayne
Allard, AMA vice president for government relations. "This report would
allow for more time to, hopefully, come to a solution that meets the training
needs of the military while maintaining access for motorized recreation."
The language, included in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal
Year 2013 (H.R. 4310), was offered by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) with support
from Sens. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.). House and
Senate negotiators worked out their differences over the bill in a conference committee
and then sent it to their respective chambers for final approval. Once approved
by both chambers, it goes to the president to be signed into law.
"The AMA, in partnership with the California Motorized Recreation Council
and The Livingston Group in Washington, D.C., that was hired by the CMRC to
move the legislation, worked long and hard to get this important report
required before the base expansion can proceed," Allard said.
The California Motorized Recreation Council is a non-profit association
comprised of the leadership of the largest off-highway vehicle recreation
organizations in California. CMRC membership includes, the Off-Road Business
Association, California Association of 4-Wheel Drive Clubs, California Off-Road
Vehicle Association, AMA national, American Sand Association, California-Nevada
Snowmobile Association, AMA District 36 (Northern California, Northwestern
Nevada) and AMA District 37 (Southern California) Off-Road.
"I particularly want to thank Rep. Bartlett and Sens. Feinstein and Udall
for their efforts," Allard said.
"This was truly a team effort involving many southern California motorized
groups and their elected representatives in Washington, D.C., as well as other
representatives in Congress," Allard said.
In July, the Department of the Navy released a final environmental impact
statement for the expansion of the Marine base. The preferred alternative would
allow public use of only 40,000 acres of the 190,000-acre Johnson Valley OHV
area, and for only 10 months a year.
It's all part of an effort by the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at
Twentynine Palms to expand its land holdings to allow for more live-fire
training. The Marine Corps is part of the Navy.
The proposed expansion needs congressional approval. The military had hoped to
begin training on the land in 2014.
Several years ago, the Navy began the formal process to take over some 365,906
acres of public land near San Bernardino to use for live-fire training for the
At that time, the Navy filed an application with the U.S. Interior Department
seeking control of the public land, which is under the jurisdiction of the U.S.
Bureau of Land Management. The Navy also wants priority for some 72,186 acres
of non-federal land in case the federal government acquires it.