California's Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area Ok'd
SEMA Praises Congressional Action to Save Johnson Valley OHV Recreation Area
Diamond Bar, CA December 13, 2013; The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) strongly supports a provision to end a six-year clash over access to 189,000 acres of Southern California desert between the military and off-highway vehicle (OHV) users. The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a solution to create a dedicated OHV recreation area and provide land for training to the United States Marine Corps. The Senate is set to ratify the measure next week. The bill will then be signed by the President to become law.
“SEMA commends Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA) for the instrumental role he has played in reaching a reasonable shared-use solution,” said Chris Kersting, SEMA President & CEO. “SEMA joined with a number of other organizations representing the off-road community to support this provision that addresses the nation’s military training needs while providing access for recreational activities. We consider this ground-breaking provision a positive result for both the OHV community and the United States Marine Corps.”
The Johnson Valley OHV Recreation Area will continue to be controlled by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). It contains a unique mix of open desert, dry lake beds and formidable rock-crawling formations that attracts four-wheeler enthusiasts from around the world. The area hosts the famous “King of the Hammers” Race, which drew over 50,000 people to the 2013 event. The BLM estimates that Johnson Valley generates more than $71 million annually for local economies, a number that will continue to grow.
Prior to being elected to Congress in 2012, Rep. Cook served a 26-year distinguished military career in the Marine Corps before retiring as a colonel. He has lived for years in the area that includes Johnson Valley and the Twentynine Palms base and represented those communities in the California state legislature before his election to Congress.
SEMA worked collaboratively with the Off-Road Business Association (ORBA), California Motorized Recreation Council (CMRC), Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) and Americans for Responsible Recreational Access (ARRA). CMRC includes ORBA, California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs (Cal4Wheel), California Off-Highway Vehicle Association (CORVA), American Motorcyclist Association National (AMA), AMA District 36, AMA District 37 Off-Road, San Diego Off-Road Coalition (SDORC), American Sand Association (ASA) and California Nevada Snow Mobile Association (CNSA).
2014 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT
Johnson Valley & Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base Provision Summary
A provision to expand the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, CA and preserve off-highway vehicle (OHV) access to Johnson Valley is contained in Subtitle C of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2014. Leaders of the House and Senate Armed Service Committees announced an agreement on the NDAA on December 9, 2013. The U.S. House of Representatives approved the bill on Dec. 12. The U.S. Senate is set to ratify the bill in the week of Dec. 15, and to be signed into law by President Obama.
The off-highway motorized recreation community considers this ground-breaking provision a “win” for both the OHV community and the United States Marine Corps. As a result, Johnson Valley will be designated by Congress as the “Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area,” under the continued management of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
The provision creates the “Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area,” providing federal protection to an area established in 1980 for OHV recreation by the State of California. It is the first time an OHV area has been provided national recognition. Three land areas have been designated for specific types of use: 1) Johnson Valley OHV Area 2) Shared Use Area 3) Exclusive Military Use Area. [see map] • The “Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area” includes: • 43,431 acres of the existing area • 53,231 acres (Shared Use Area) • 96,662 total acreage
• The Marine Corps’ Military Use & Shared Use Areas include: Exclusive Military Use Area: • 78,993 acres (west) • 18,704 acres (south) • 97, 697 total acreage
Shared Use Area • 53, 231 total acres
The Marine Corps shall provide access between the two non-contiguous areas included in the Johnson Valley OHV Recreation Area (northeast corner of OHV Area). The Exclusive Military Use Area boundary shall be clearly identified and maintained by the Marine Corps (ex: fences). The Marine Corps shall be permitted to engage in large-scale, live-fire field training exercises on this land at any time during the year. -2-
The Shared Use Area will be available to the Marine Corps for training twice a year for 30 days (60 days total). The Shared Use Area shall otherwise be available for public recreation at all other times. The Shared Use Area shall be managed by the BLM except for those times when the Marine Corps is conducting its training exercises. Dud-producing ordnance (artillery shells, bombs, etc.) will be prohibited in the Shared Use Area. The Marine Corps is permitted to set-aside two “Company Objective Areas” within the Shared Use Area for special needs associated with its semi-annual training exercises. Each area will be no larger than 22 acres and the Marine Corps shall be permitted to use small, short-range explosives on this land when training. Nevertheless, an ordnance disposal team will sweep the area after the training exercise to confirm removal of any hazards. Military vehicles may be permitted to transit the Johnson Valley OHV Recreation Area during training exercise periods. A “Resource Management Group” will be established by the Secretary of the Navy (Marine Corps) and Secretary of the Interior (BLM) to determine the location of the Company Objective Areas and coordinate management of the lands. The Marine Corps and BLM will seek input from state agencies and the OHV, recreation and environmental communities regarding land use issues, such as recreational use within the Shared Use Area. The entire land-use provision expires on March 31, 2039.
About SEMA SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association founded in 1963, represents the $29.99 billion specialty automotive industry of 6,537 member-companies. It is the authoritative source for research, data, trends and market growth information for the specialty auto parts industry. The industry provides appearance, performance, comfort, convenience and technology products for passenger and recreational vehicles. For more information, contact SEMA at 1575 S. Valley Vista Dr., Diamond Bar, CA 91765, tel: 909/396-0289, or visit www.sema.org or www.enjoythedrive.com.