Military efforts to expand base into California's Johnson Valley off-highway vehicle riding area hit snag
January 07, 2013
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The U.S.
military can't spend a dime on expanding a Marine base into the popular Johnson
Valley off-highway vehicle riding area in California until the Navy files a
report on off-highway riding with Congress, the American Motorcyclist
On Jan. 2, President Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization
Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (H.R. 4310), triggering a hold on spending and a
90-day deadline for the military to report to Congress on how its proposed
expansion of a Marine base at Twentynine Palms, Calif., would affect
off-highway riding at Johnson Valley.
The language was inserted into the bill by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) with
support from Sens. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.).
"This requirement for a report to Congress is very important because it
will force the Navy to explain to the people's representatives why it wants to
bar riders from one of the most popular riding areas in the country," said
Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations who is a former
congressman and U.S. senator from Colorado.
"Congress will have the final say on whether the military can proceed with
its plans to expand the base into Johnson Valley," Allard said. "But
we don't believe this expansion is necessary. The report will allow for some
breathing room for off-highway-vehicle advocates and the military to talk to
try to come up with a solution that meets the training needs of the military
while maintaining access for motorized recreation.
"Also, the report should show members of Congress who may not be familiar
with Johnson Valley how vitally important the area is for motorized recreation,"
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.
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
Marines. 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 Marine Corps hopes to begin training on the land in 2014.
"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 added. "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."
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.