As many of you know, the Department of Defense has proposed a major expansion of the Twentynine Palms Marine base. The DOD proposal would significantly disrupt OHV use in the popular Johnson Valley OHV Area.

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) prepared for the base expansion has been released for public review and comment. The comment deadline is May 26, 2011. Please see the Action Item below for tips and pointers on how to comment.

Many off-highway enthusiasts feel conflicted on this issue; on one hand they support the US Military and understand the economic importance of the Twentynine Palms base to adjacent communities. On the other hand, off-highway vehicle users have, over the years, been “crammed” into the Johnson Valley area after decades of Wilderness designation, administrative closures, and lawsuits that closed millions of acres of the California desert.

The great respect for our fighting men and women notwithstanding, a review of the DEIS indicates that the base expansion is based on the assumption that there is a need for three Marine Expeditionary Brigades to train simultaneously.  Upon review, it appears the DOD has developed a proposal based on an outdated segregated training model. Also, questions regarding the cost of the base expansion; given budget constraints, the current fiscal crisis and ballooning national deficit; have been raised.

Johnson Valley OHV area is home to a number of off-road events, including the King of the Hammers race. Photo: Josh Burns

Off-highway vehicle recreation is a very popular family activity, especially in Southern California. According to the California State Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division (OHMVR), between 1980 and 2007 the number of registered OHVs has increased 370%. Unfortunately, since 1980 the amount of desert lands available for this type of recreation has fallen dramatically. Due to its proximity to southern California metropolitan areas, Johnson Valley is one of the most important areas to serve this growing demand for both in-state and out-of-state visitors.

This is why BRC, as well as numerous other OHV groups, are opposing the base expansion. Groups such as CORVA, Cal 4WD and AMA District 37 are doing yeoman’s work on protecting the popular Johnson Valley area. With your help, we believe there is a chance to save Johnson Valley!

BRC is encouraging our members to submit comments in response to the DEIS, but we are also encouraging our members to contact their congressional representatives. Our Action Item below includes comment suggestions and a link you can use to find your U.S. Representative. Please take action today!

Brian Hawthorne
Public Lands Policy Director
BlueRibbon Coalition
208-237-1008 ext 102

Situation:
The proposed expansion of the Marine base at Twentynine Palms threatens to close the popular Johnson Valley OHV area.

BACKGROUND INFO:

What you need to do:

STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO SEND YOUR COMMENTS:

STEP 1: Click on the following link, which will take you to the Marie Corps DEIS comment webpage.
https://extranet.tecinc.com/29Palms_DEIS/. Read and follow the instructions for completing
the Comment Form.

STEP 2: Use the comments suggestions below as a guideline for your comments. Cut and paste is
okay, but try to make your comments as concise as possible.

STEP 3: Once you have completed your comments, click the “Submit” button.

NOTE: Comments submitted through the website must be limited to 3000 characters.

Optional:
You may also comment by mail to: Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southwest, ATTN: 29Palms EIS Project Manager, 1220 Pacific Highway, San Diego, CA 92132-519.

You should send a copy of your comments to your congressional representatives. You can find their contact information by going to our Rapid Response Center and entering your zip code.
http://www.sharetrails.org/rapid_response/

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