JOHNSON VALLEY, CA: In the ongoing effort to Save the Johnson Valley OHV area, a new campaign has emerged to raise national awareness regarding the expansion of the 29 Palms Marine base onto public lands. Volunteers have created a petition on the White House.gov site (http://petitions.whitehouse.gov) with the hope of receiving formal recognition from the White House regarding The Johnson Valley OHV area. The White House has committed to responding to any petition that receives 25,000 or more signatures within a 30 day time frame.
The petition specifically requests the White House to deny any request by the 29 Palms Marine Base to withdraw land from The Johnson Valley OHV area and use it for base expansion purposes. The title of the petition specifically requests the White House to: “Save the Johnson Valley OHV Area. Be fiscally responsible. Stop 29 Palms Marine base expansion. Keep public lands open.” This petition will need roughly 1,000 signatures a day to be eligible to receive a response from a White House representative.
“We have made great strides forward in our fight to Save the Johnson Valley OHV Area” said Jeff Knoll, Off Road Business Association (ORBA) representative. “There was an amendment passed by Congress and signed into law by the President last month that requires the Marines to further investigate the economic impact the loss of this public land would have on multiple communities, but we need to do more”, Knoll explains.
The amendment’s passing grants some reprieve from the Marine’s expansion initiative, however, it does not stop the expansion. In fact, the Secretary of the Navy is expected to release a formal Record of Decision any day announcing the Marines desire to move forward with existing expansion plans. The Marines current preferred plan means expanding the world’s largest Marine Base by 160,000 acres, roughly the size of Singapore, and the public would lose over 100,000 acres of public land forever. Those opposed to base expansion argue that the expansion will cost tax payers millions and will have a negative financial impact on surrounding communities in the high desert.
“We are hoping with this petition to raise the level of national discussion on this issue.” Said Dave Cole, founder of the King of The Hammers, a popular and growing motorsport event held annually in Johnson Valley. “1,000 signatures a day is an aggressive goal, but we’ve already submitted more than 22,000 letters directly to the Marines opposing base expansion, so we are confident we have the voices to make it happen. They just need to make themselves heard.”