We need every off-roader to participate in a targeted outreach. One phone call or fax a day is all we ask. Talking points can be found below. Contact name is underlined. Congress is on recess this week, they should be in the District Office. Every off-roader must participate!
USMC Preferred Alternative:
Alternative 6 was selected in the DEIS as the preferred alternative and slightly modified in the Final EIS: it is the optimal alternative for the Marine Corps considering operational and environmental impact factors together. Developed in response to public comments it was designed to rpeserve public access to important off-road recreation areas during periods when MEB training did not require use of those lands. The Preferred Alternative would allow for reopening to public recreation use approximately 40,000 acres of the acquisition area for ten months a year. The land would fall under management of the Marine Corps under this proposed plan.
The US Marine Corps has posted the final EIS on their website here: http://www.marines.mil/unit/29palms/las/Pages/default.aspx
A Q&A document with higlights of major changes in the final EIS is posted at http://www.marines.mil/unit/29palms/LAS/Documents/V7_FEIS__FAQS_120725.pdf
Public comments are due by August 27
For context, issuance of the EIS has been anticipated for months.
Nevertheless, Congress is still expected to enact the 2013 Defense Authorization Act that will include a provision requiring the Marines to undertake a study on alternative ways to share the land with the OHV community. The House has included the provision in its version of the bill, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein intends to sponsor the provision when the Senate takes up their version of the bill, thereby guaranteeing it will be in the final law. Although the Marines have put forth their EIS, Congress must ultimately enact legislation authorizing any transfer of land from the BLM to the Marines.
Johnson Valley OHV Area Talking Points
ISSUE: Marine Corps plans to acquire 160,000 acres of BLM land next to Marine Corps Ground Air Combat Center (MCGACC) Twenty Nine Palms eliminates most of the land available under the California Desert Conservation Plan (1980) available for to off highway (OHV) recreation impacting OHV activity and the local and national economy.
Johnson Valley OHV recreation area is 189,700 acres that develops at least 300,000 visitor days per year and is world renowned as an OHV recreation area.
Economic impact: BLM estimates $71.5 million annually into the local economy and $191.2 Million into the national economy.
USMC has a new requirement for MEB level maneuver training and intends to acquire 160,000 acres of this the land from BLM and conduct live fire on all but 40,000 acres – permanently closing access to 120,000 acres.
Local authorities and State authorities and thousands of citizens are opposed to the transfer of this land.
USMC is well into the EIS process and could issue a Record of decision as early as this summer.
Options other than those in the Draft EIS need to be considered:
Permitted use of land from BLM (like at other BLM sites used for training)
Other BLM land in the region (not necessarily adjacent).
More time needed for deliberation and seeking options on both sides and with the State.
Not urgent since Marines have been deploying to combat for 10 years without this extra range – should have more time to seek a broader solution set.
Once live fire starts the land is permanently lost. We need to find accommodation for OHV needs and that will require BLM and State officials.
The US House of Representatives passed an Amendment to the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act that requires, prior to transfer, the Secretary of the Navy to provide a report on the new Marine requirement for this land and on the economic impact and on other potential solutions to the elimination of recreational land.
In spite of this Congressional interest, the Secretary of the Navy just entered the final Environmental Impact Statement into the Federal Register and can now within a short time announce his “Record of Decision” to acquire this land.
The intent of the House of Representatives was to slow this down to have a better look at it. The Navy has run roughshod over the House and ignored their intent. The House should be angry. We are.
Please call the Secretary of the Navy and tell him to stop this provcess until all the stakeholders – including federal legislators – have had their voices heard.
If the Marines went through 10 years of war without this extra land, it surely could wait a few months until all interests could be accommodated.
You can learn more about the effort to save the Johnson Valley OHV area by visiting savethehammers.org