Congress Gives Johnson Valley Off Highway Vehicle Recreation Area Users a Happy Holiday
Washington D.C. December 25th, 2012
The Mayan calendar did not disappoint Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) users, as it seemed to reset the battle for the largest OHV area in the country. Gaining overwhelming support in both the House and the Senate, HR 4310 passed Friday, giving the California Motorized Recreation Council (CMRC) a much needed piece of legislation that keeps the United States Marine Corps from steamrolling into the Johnson Valley OHV area that was dedicated to public use as part of the 1980 Desert Conservation Plan.
Section 2856 of the bill requires the USMC to study the feasibility of the use of the OHV area under a permit, much like other users of the BLM managed area are required, rather than absorb the OHV into the Twenty-Nine Palms Marine base which is currently the size of the state of Rhode Island. If approved by Congress, the expansion would make it the largest military base in the world. The CMRC and its affiliate groups have worked hard to look for a solution that would accommodate the training needs of the Marines, while maintaining the opportunities the unique area offers recreational users. “There are few other areas open to backcountry travel that offer this type of experience, “ said Jeff Knoll, who is the chairman of the Save the Hammers CMRC sub-committee. “The most exciting thing that has come from this effort is the momentum we have gained working as one large group rather than a dozen individuals, but we have a long way to go before we can feel its been a success,” Knoll went on to say.
The group, which has grown in size since its inception, now includes national representation beyond its original eight California based OHV advocacy groups. Perhaps more importantly, it has included a small vocal group called the “Partnership for Johnson Valley” which represents the interests of the local community. “Our goal from day one was to invite all interested parties to the table and build a collaborative effort that would help us seek out a solution. Harry Baker, representative for PFJV, has presented a balance we may not have always considered in the discussion,” Knoll said.
The battle to save the Hammers will continue despite the latest good news from Congress. The group will be continuing its fundraising effort so it may continue its relationship with the Livingston Group, a Washington D.C. based lobbyist group that specializes in military issues. “We really need to reaffirm our position all the way to the end of the process. We have some great people volunteering, but we can always use fresh ideas, and additional help with this effort,” said Knoll.
For More information, to volunteer, or to make a donation please visit;
California Motorized Recreation Council includes:
Off Road Business Association (ORBA)
The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA)
California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs (CA4WDC)
California Off Road Vehicle Association (CORVA)
AMA District 36
AMA District 37
California Nevada Snowmobile Association (CNSA)
Additional association participants in the Johnson Valley Subcommittee effort include:
Partnership for Johnson Valley
Friends of Johnson Valley
Hammerking Productions (KOH)
Blue Ribbon Coalition (BRC)
Americans for Responsible Recreation Access (ARRA)
Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC)
Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA)
International Side X Side Association (ISA)
Complete text of section 2856 of HR4310 below;
SEC. 2856. LIMITATION ON AVAILABILITY OF FUNDS PEND-
ING REPORT REGARDING ACQUISITION OF
LAND AND DEVELOPMENT OF A TRAINING
RANGE FACILITY ADJACENT TO THE MARINE
CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER
TWENTYNINE PALMS, CALIFORNIA.
(a) FINDINGS.—Congress makes the following findings:
(1) The Marine Corps has studied the feasibility of acquiring land and developing a training range facility to conduct Marine Expeditionary Brigade level live-fire training on or near the West Coast.
(2) The Bureau of Land Management estimates on national economic impact show $261,500,000 in commerce at risk.
(3) Economic impact on the local community is estimated to be $71,100,000.
(b) LIMITATION OF FUNDS PENDING REPORT.—
(1) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary of the Navy may not obligate or expend funds for the transfer of land or development of a new training range on land adjacent to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, until the Secretary of the Navy has provided the congressional defense committees a report on the Marine Corps’ efforts with respect to the proposed training range.
(2) ELEMENTS OF REPORT.—The report required under paragraph (1) shall be submitted not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act and shall include the following:
(A) A description of the actual training requirements for the proposed range and where those training requirements are currently being met to support combat deployments.
(B) Identification of the impact on off-road vehicle recreational users of the land, the economic impact on the local economy, the recreation industry, and any other stakeholders.
(C) Identification of any concerns discussed with the Bureau of Land Management regarding their assessments of the impact on other users.
(D) Identification of the impact on the State of California’s 1980 Desert Conservation Plan regarding allocation of the Off Highway Vehicle Recreation Areas.
(E) An evaluation of the potential to use the same land without transfer, but under specific permits for use provided by the Bureau of Land Management (as such permits are used at other locations from the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management).
(F) An evaluation of any potential impactson other Bureau of Land Management lands proximate to Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms or other locations in the geographic region.
(3) SECRETARY OF DEFENSE WAIVER.—In the event of urgent national need, the Secretary of Defense may notify the congressional defense committees and waive the requirement for the report required under paragraph (1).