DEAL MADE TO SAVE MOST OF JOHNSON VALLEY OFF-ROAD AREA

DEAL MADE TO SAVE MOST OF JOHNSON VALLEY OFF-ROAD AREA

A deal has been made to preserve most of the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) area while still allowing the Marines to conduct exercises in the area. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 would preserve about 100,000 acres of Johnson Valley while allowing the Marines to expand the Twentynine Palms Marine Base into a portion of Johnson Valley, and ending the threat of military expansion to the remaining off-road area. The Marines would be allowed to use a portion of the nearly 100,000 acre Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area for a maximum of 60 days per year, and the area would be open to the off-road community for recreational use during the remaining 305 days. The new Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area is nearly as large as the Imperial Sand Dunes at Glamis and is explicitly designated for off-highway vehicle use under the new law. Included in this area is the entire “Hammers” area, (both the front and back side), Spooners, Aftershock, Sunbonnet, the Riffle Monument, and the Cal200 Memorial (The Rockpile). The majority of the Fry Mountains and full access to Soggy Dry Lake Bed are also guaranteed for off-highway vehicle use, as well as access to Emerson Dry Lake Bed. The famed “King of the Hammers” Race, which draws over 30,000 people to Johnson Valley every year, will continue under the new bill. The Bureau of Land Management estimates that OHV users in Johnson Valley currently generate more than $71 million annually for local economies. The Marine Corps said in a statement that Marines will now be able to conduct fully integrated, live-fire exercises based on current training requirements, while still preserving safe public access for Off-Highway Vehicle recreation in Johnson Valley. Political leaders from U.S. senators and Congressmen Paul Cook of Yucca Valley, to Third County Supervisor James Ramos, to the mayors of Twentynine Palms and Yucca Valley, praised the compromise bill.

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