WASHINGTON – Rep. Paul Cook’s (R-Yucca Valley) plan to create the Johnson Valley National Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Recreation Area was included yesterday in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Originally introduced earlier this year as a stand-alone bill, the legislation was co-sponsored by Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-Santa Clarita), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
Cook stated, “This legislation has cleared an important hurdle. Support for it was overwhelmingly bipartisan. My concern has always been about public safety. The Johnson Valley is one of the few places left for off-highway vehicle recreation. This is a balanced approach which protects public safety while still allowing for recreational use.”
Rep. Cook’s proposal would withdraw the Johnson Valley OHV area for the purposes of recreation and designate it as the Johnson Valley National OHV Recreation Area. The withdrawn area would be designated specifically for recreational uses, including but not limited to off-highway vehicle use, camping, and hiking. U.S. Marine Corps activities would be permitted to take place twice annually and could not include any explosives that could be left behind without detonating.
The NDAA passed by a 59-2 margin, and it will now be heard by the full House next week before moving on to the Senate. The NDAA is the comprehensive legislation to authorize the budget authority of the Department of Defense and the national security programs of the Department of Energy.
A member of the House Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.