Common Ground Talking Points: An OHV Enthusiasts Guide
Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Recreation Area is the largest OHV area in the US. It is managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and designated an OHV area under 1980 Desert Conservation Plan.
In 2004, the US Marine Corps identified the need to train forces (about 15,000 troops) for less than 2 months a year.
The Marines decided to expand its Twentynine Palms base, the second largest military base in the world. (The world’s largest base, Fort Irwin, is only 86 miles away.)
The Marines considered 6 different expansion options and approved “Alternative 6” which asks Congress to approve a land transfer as part of the “National Defense Authorization Act.”
The Marines would own nearly 147,000 acres of Johnson Valley. Nearly 104,000 acres would be permanently closed. Another 43,000 acres, including the unique terrain known as “Hammers,” would be available for dual-use purposes but this land could be closed in the future since munitions from live-fire training could make the area unsafe for recreational use.
Alternative 6 does not address the impact on local communities which numbers at least $71 million annually to the local economy and $262 million nationally.
Alternative 6 threatens the annual “King of the Hammers” 10-day event held each February. BLM estimates that over 50,000 people attended the 2013 event.
Solution: Alternative 4
The Marines also proposed Alternative 4 as the solution for providing access for military training and OHV recreation.
Only three changes need to be made: reverse the direction of maneuvers (to west-to-east), have live fire only on Twentynine Palms land, and retain BLM management of the land via special-use permits.
Under this plan, the Marines won’t have to manage and secure the land, the local economy is not harmed, OHV access is preserved and federal tax dollars are saved.
If the private sector has the ability to manage an event of 50,000 attendees over 10 days on BLM land, can’t the Marines do the same?
See Common Ground White Paper for more details. When meeting with your legislator please be a problem solver and seek solutions. Be the specialists on land management and OHV issues your lawmaker can call upon.
Comments submitted on behalf of California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs are attached.