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 California Motorized Recreation Council (CMRC), an umbrella group of the eight largest Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) associations in California, has organized a national effort to help save the world-renowned Johnson Valley OHV area in California. Mobilizing enthusiasts from across the country, and utilizing its relationship with the Livingston Group of Washington DC, CMRC has succeeded in its efforts to educate Congress about the unbelievable loss of public lands it has experienced since 1978 in the California Desert. The latest loss of opportunity stems from the 29 Palms Marine base expansion into the 160,000 acre Johnson Valley OHV area, which was created as part of the 1980 California Desert Protection Act.

Congressman Bartlett (R-Maryland), with the support of his Californian counterparts, requested additional information of the United States Marine Corps before the expansion could be approved, including a study of the CMRC proposal to allow the area be used by a permit for the 12 days a year the Marines plan to train. “We believe a better use of the area would be under a permit rather than closing the entire area. Securing the perimeter will be a colossal undertaking and the additional cost of acquisition can be reduced by simply using the area during training rather than closing it to the public,” stated Jeff Knoll, CMRC JV sub-committee chairman.

The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) has been delayed a number of times from its expected release last February, and is expected this week. Congressman Bartlett’s Amendment 243 to HR 4310 delays the expansion until the Marines can produce a report that explores the potential to utilize the area by permit. In addition, it requires the Marine Corps to produce this required information in the next 90 days. The complete body can be viewed below.

The Off Road Business Association (ORBA) will host a free Vendor Poker Walk during Contingency for the 6th running of the King of the Hammers in Johnson Valley.   Five freshman members of the trade based OHV advocate group will be hosting the poker walk. Participants may enter free of charge by visiting any one of the participating vendors booths between 10:00 am and 4:00pm on Thursday February 9th 2012. The winner will be announced at 5:00pm at the SXSPerformance.com booth #V42 in Hammertown.

Participating vendors are as follows;

RuffStuff Specialties Booth V24

SXSPerformance.com Booth V42

Trail Gear Booth V45

Poison Spider Customs V43A

Torchmate CNC Cutting Systems Booth V20.

Participants will have the opportunity to draw an additional card by making a donation to ORBA when they turn in their playing card at the SXS Performance booth. “Our goal is to raise awareness of the type of work ORBA does for OHV users through its work with lobbyists. Off-Road industry leaders apply a different perspective when dealing with legislators, and we feel that the community needs to understand that process. This interaction between ORBA membership and the end users is a great first step in bridging the gap and showing consumers the work the off-road businesses do to keep public lands public.” said ORBA President Fred Wiley.

Participants will be required to visit each of the five listed vendors to draw a single card, and then turn in the completed playing card in order to win. The player with the best poker hand will win a prize pack assembled from each of the ORBA vendors who are participating in the Poker Walk. No vehicle travel is required, and entry is limited to one per person. Donations will benefit the effort to stop the 29 Palms base expansion into Johnson Valley OHV area through Savethehammers.org.