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Act now to help save California’s Johnson Valley riding area

January 15, 2013

An ATV in the paddock at Johnson Valley.

Riders trying to save California’s Johnson Valley off-highway vehicle area from a military base expansion have launched a new petition drive to get White House attention.

The petition organizers say they need 1,000 signatures a day for a month to get the White House to respond to concerns about the proposed expansion of the Marine Corp base at Twentynine Palms into Johnson Valley. The White House has committed to responding to any petition that receives 25,000 or more signatures in 30 days.

The petition asks the White House to deny any request by the military to annex land from the Johnson Valley OHV area for base expansion. The title of the petition specifically requests the White House to: “Save the Johnson Valley OHV Area. Be fiscally responsible. Stop 29 Palms Marine base expansion. Keep public lands open.”

The petition drive has from Jan. 15 to Feb. 14 to gain the necessary signatures required for a formal response. The full petition is at .

“We have made great strides forward in our fight to Save the Johnson Valley OHV Area,” said Jeff Knoll, Off Road Business Association representative. “There was an amendment passed by Congress and signed into law by the president last month that requires the Marines to further investigate the economic impact the loss of this public land would have on multiple communities, but we need to do more.”

The amendment's passing grants some reprieve from the expansion initiative but it doesn’t stop the expansion. The Marine Corps’ current plan would expand the Marine base by 160,000 acres. The public would lose more than 100,000 recreational acres of public land forever.

Those opposed to the base expansion argue that the expansion will cost taxpayers millions of dollars and will have a negative financial impact on surrounding communities in the high desert. 

“We are hoping with this petition to raise the level of national discussion on this issue,” said Dave Cole, founder of the King of The Hammers, a popular and growing motorsport event held annually in Johnson Valley. “[Some] 1,000 signatures a day is an aggressive goal, but we’ve already submitted more than 22,000 letters directly to the Marines opposing base expansion, so we are confident we have the voices to make it happen. They just need to make themselves heard.”

To learn more about the efforts to Save Johnson Valley, visit

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