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Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area


A coalition of groups is working to stop the Navy takeover of Johnson Valley, including the California Motorized Recreation Council, which is a non-profit association that includes 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 Inc., California Off-Road Vehicle Association, the AMA, American Sand Association, California-Nevada Snowmobile Association, AMA District 36 (Northern California, Northwestern Nevada) and AMA District 37 (Southern California) Off-Road.

In July 2012, the Navy released a final environmental impact statement for the expansion of the Marine Corps base. Under the Navy's plan, it would allow public use of only about 40,000 acres of the 190,000-acre Johnson Valley off-highway vehicle area, and for only 10 months a year.

The Navy began the formal process several years ago to take over some 365,906 acres of public land near San Bernardino to use for live-fire training for the Marines, including Johnson Valley. At that time, the Navy filed an application with the U.S. Interior Department seeking control of the public land under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.


See below for information on what AMA members have done so far on this issue.


Johnson Valley, Calif. (Photo: Nick Haris)

2013

  • December 11, 2013  Thanks to language included in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 that was approved by a U.S. House-Senate conference committee, the majority of Johnson Valley has been saved for off-highway vehicle access.
  • May 14, 2013 the AMA sent a letter of support on H.R. 1676 to the representatives that serve on the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee.
  • May 13, 2013 the AMA issued an alert entitled "House panel to vote on pro-OHV bill."
  • Last week of April 2013 the U.S. House Natural Resources' Subcommittee on Public Land and Environmental Regulation held a hearing on H.R. 1676, the Johnson Valley National Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area Establishment Act. The bill, introduced by U.S. Rep. Paul Cook (R-Calif.) would designate the Johnson Valley National Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area in San Bernardino County, Calif. It would also authorize a limited military use of the area and provide for the transfer of the Southern Study Area to the Navy for inclusion in the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms.
  • Last week of April 2013 the Chairman of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee became a cosponsor to the H.R. 1676, the Johnson Valley National Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area Establishment Act. This is important because the legislation must proceed through the chairman's committee.
  • Last week of April 2013 the AMA and coalition members sent letters of support to the members on the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee
  • Last week of April 2013 U.S. Rep. Paul Cook (R-Calif.) introduced H.R. 1676, the Johnson Valley National Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area Establishment Act.
  • Third week of April 2013 The Motorcycle Industry Council and American Motorcyclist Association met to review draft legislation and determine who testifies on behalf of Johnson Valley coalition.
  • Third week of April 2013 The AMA and coalition of off-highway groups sent letters of support to the chairman of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee.
  • Middle part of April 2013 The AMA and The Livingston Group met with the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and his committee staff.
  • Third week March 2013 U.S. Rep. Paul Cook (R-Calif.) worked on drafting his legislation regarding Johnson Valley
  • Third week of March 2013 The AMA and TLG met with U.S. Rep. Paul Cook (R-Calif.) and his staff
  • Middle of March 2013 TLG reported the key players need to have three provisions in Alternative 4 legislation:
    1. Withdrawal of the current use and re-designation as a national recreation area for use by off-road recreation activity.
    2. Use by U.S. Marine Corps for up to 42 days per year with federal Bureau of Land Management documented approval.
    3. No dud producing ordinance in Johnson Valley.
  • Second week of March 2013 The chairman of U.S. House Natural Resources Committee had conferred with the chairman of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee and U.S. Rep.Paul Cook (R-Calif.), whose congressional district includes Johnson Valley and Twentynine Palms Marine base.
  • First part of March 2013 TLG and AMA representatives met with the chairman of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee and committee staff. They have shared jurisdiction with the U.S. House Armed Services Committee regarding Johnson Valley and Twentynine Palms Marine base.
  • Middle of March 2013 TLG met with the chairman of U.S. House Armed Services Committee and the Marines to discuss their position at an event in Washington. It was discovered during this exchange that the Marine commander in charge of the base expansion project had never been to the Twentynine Palms Marine base!
  • First week March 2013 The AMA Western States Representative points out where the USMC contradicts itself by stating that "This initiative (Twentynine Palms expansion) is scheduled for completion by 2015,enabling the capability to exercise three maneuver battalions and their respective combat support, combat service support and aviation supporting elements simultaneously. During the period between the MAGTF TP transition and completion of the Twentynine Palms Land Expansion, additional locations such as MWTC, MCAS Yuma and Marine Corps Base at Camp Pendleton will be used for live units in order to enable an entire MEB to exercise." Where earlier the Corps had stated that "Currently, no such training capability exists. Large-scale MAGTF training currently relies on a combination of classroom instruction, command post exercises, and simulation as part of command element training."
  • End of February 2013 The AMA, TLG, Off-Road Business Association, California Motorized Recreation Council, Specialty Equipment Manufacturing Association and MIC agree on specific talking points in favor of alternative 4.
  • Middle of February CMRC has shown that Alternative 4 in the USMC study, if reversed in maneuver direction (west to east instead of east to west) would allow for use of Johnson Valley BLM land for maneuver but not for live fire—live fire could commence after transiting the BLM land – a reasonable compromise.
  • Middle of February 2013 the AMA reviews and supports the TLG white paper in favor of alternative 4 instead of the Marine alternative 6 to keep the BLM the managing agency for Johnson Valley, Calif.
  • Third week of January 2013 the USMC releases the results of their Bartlett Amendment study that was just a repeat of their previous provisions
  • Middle of January 2013 the AMA requests the committee consider holding a hearing on Section 2856 of H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 [Public Law 112-239]. Section 2856 requires the USMC to create a report on the proposed expansion of the Twentynine Palms base into the federal BLM administered land known as the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area in California. The letter was addressed to both the Chairman and Ranking Member of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee and to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee.


2012

  • December 19, 2012 The U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) amendment was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and is now in the conference report as Sec. 2856 (previously known as Section 2870).
  • Early December AMA announces its support of Section 2870 of the Defense bill. It would require the USMC to conduct a study before the land transfer. Johnson Valley is about 119,000-acres of riding area. It is the place where thousands of riders go to race and ride. AMA District 37 hosts about ten events at this location per year. If we lose acreage, other areas where we can ride will be limited.
  • At the urging of members of Congress, including House Majority Whip, the USMC met with key members of the California CMRC on December 5, 2012 in Twentynine Palms, Calif.
  • November 2012 The U.S. Department of the Interior listed in Federal Register a correction notice on the Public Land Order No. 7801; withdrawal of Public Lands for Protection of Proposed Expansion of Twentynine Palms, CA
  • Second week of August AMA western states representative met with CMRC
  • Second week of August AMA western states representative prepared Environmental Impact Statement comments regarding Johnson Valley
  • Last week of August Twentynine Palms Marine Corps base expansion Final Environmental Impact Statement posted and available for review on the internet
  • Fourth week in July Western states representative discussed Johnson Valley at the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council
  • Fourth week of July phone conference with AMA, TLG and CMRC on Johnson Valley EIS statement
  • Fourth week of July phone conference with U.S. Sen. Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) environmental issues staffer on the Johnson Valley-Marine Corps training base expansion EIS report coming out on July 27, 2012.
  • Fourth Week of July discussed the Navy EIS statement with Fred Wiley
  • Third week in July visited with California AMA members and CMRC on the U.S. Navy announcing the FEIS for Johnson Valley
  • Second week of July Western states representative attended two motorcyclist meetings in California and discussed Johnson Valley
  • Second week of July AMA Vice President for Government Relations had a phone conference with several members of CMRC on process and adoption of the Bartlett amendment.
  • Third week in June started working on TLG and AMA joint fundraiser for the Congressman carrying the study amendment for Johnson Valley in September and whose family members are avid motorcyclists.
  • Second week of June met with TLG group to discuss strategy for the U.S. Senate side to retain the Bartlett amendment.
  • Second week of June attended the Maryland Congressional District 6 representative’s fundraiser to discuss Johnson Valley issues and his amendment.
  • Last week of May worked with California OHV leadership on the budget to fight the Johnson Valley issue
  • Third Week in May amendment introduced by U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.). It was included in the National Defense Authorization Act by voice vote. Supported and worked for its passage at the request of the CMRC and TLG. The amendment allowed for more time to work out a joint use agreement between the USMC and the OHV community in Johnson Valley, Calif., by establishing a study.
  • Second week of May distributed two alerts on Defense appropriations amendment by U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) to have the USMC produce a report on the impacts of the Twentynine Palms base expansion on the Johnson Valley communities.
  • Second week of May AMA Western states  representative met with Johnson Valley OHV groups in California and scheduled periodic meetings to review progress
  • First week of May AMA met with CMRC and TLG to discuss strategy with Defense Appropriations bill (H.R. 4310)
  • Fourth week of April AMA Western states representative working with Blue Ribbon Coalition, ORBA, NOHVCC, and local users/dealers on Johnson Valley issue.
  • Third week of April AMA and TLG met with California Congressional District 41 Representative. He represents Johnson Valley and is former Chair of the Appropriations committee. He currently sits on the following appropriation subcommittees: Defense; Energy and Water Development and related agencies; and Interior and Environment and related agencies.
  • Third week of April working with AMA western states representative and CMRC on issues relating to Johnson Valley and helped scheduled a meeting with retiring congressman representing Johnson Valley recreation area.
  • Third week met with TLG to establish a short-term strategy which was to call for a study of the acquisition of Johnson Valley by the USMC.
  • Third week of April AMA briefed TLG on meeting with U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) staff on her legislation dealing with land use issues affecting Johnson Valley.
  • Second week of April reviewed with U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) staff on her efforts with Johnson Valley in her land designation bill.
  • Second week of April AMA reviewed H.R. 4310, an appropriation bill for Defense Department, with TLG.
  • Later in first week of April conference call with the AMA, CMRC and TLG to discuss strategy
  • First week of April AMA reviewed H.R. 4310 on appropriations for the Defense Department with the TLG
  • Afternoon March 20, 2012 AMA met with CMRC and TLG on Twentynine Palms Marine base expansion onto Johnson Valley OHV recreation area.
  • Morning March 20, 2012 AMA met with CMRC representatives at the AMA-GRD office in Washington, D.C.
  • First week of March AMA reviewed Johnson Valley issues with CMRC representative and briefed TLG.
  • Last week of February 2012 CMRC representative agreed to meet with TLG.
  • Later in last week of February 2012 AMA met with TLG about their willingness to help with the Johnson Valley issue. They were a bipartisan group known for their work on appropriation and military issues especially concerning the U.S. Navy. They agreed to meet with CMRC.
  • Last week of February 2012 Fred Wiley with the California Motorized Recreation Council (CMRC) contacted the AMA about approaching a lobbying firm for assistance with the Twentynine Palms Marine Base Expansion into Johnson Valley, a large and popular OHV recreation area.

Read the following AMA press releases on this issue: