PICKERINGTON, Ohio — Riders who use the popular Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Riding Area in California may not lose most of the area to a Marine base expansion after all, the American Motorcyclist Association reports.

The military is barred from spending money on expanding the Twentynine Palms military base into Johnson Valley until it completes a report on how the expansion would affect off-highway riding, under a military spending authorization bill approved by U.S. House and Senate conferees on Dec. 18.

“The report to Congress would cover the impact on off-highway vehicle recreation in the Johnson Valley region, along with alternatives for achieving the goals of the military and the OHV recreation communities,” said Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations. “This report would allow for more time to, hopefully, come to a solution that meets the training needs of the military while maintaining access for motorized recreation.”

PICKERINGTON, Ohio — The Department of the Navy has released a final environmental impact statement for the expansion of a Marine base in California that calls for closing a large portion of the popular Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Riding Area, the American Motorcyclist Association reports.

The preferred alternative spelled out in the final environmental impact statement would allow public use of only 40,000 acres of the 190,000-acre Johnson Valley OHV area, and for only 10 months a year. Johnson Valley is currently under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

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.

Washington, DC – The California Motorized Recreation Council (CMRC), an umbrella group of the eight largest OHV access groups in California, has agreed to contract terms with the Livingston Group, LLC in Washington, DC to help stave off the expansion of the 29 Palms Marine Base. The move comes on the heels of the expected April 27th, 2012 release of a Final Environmental Impact Study (FEIS) by the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps wishes to annex approximately 160,000 acres of the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle area, which is the largest open OHV area in the United States and contributes over $70 million dollars into the economy of the surrounding High Desert communities annually.

The Marine Corps proposal would limit motorized recreation to less than one percent of the entire California Desert, a move in which the Off-Road Business Association (ORBA) contends will cripple the already battered off-road manufacturing industry, and increase the likelihood of resource damage and safety concerns at the remaining OHV areas. “Our industry has continued to grow at steady pace since the late 1970s, while in that same time period we have lost 48% of the recreational opportunities in the California Desert.” Fred Wiley, the president of the Off-Road Business Association went on to say, “While we support the training needs of our military, it is a bitter pill to swallow losing such a massive piece of our public lands, considering the limited time the Marine Corps plans to utilize this portion of the desert.”

On April 27th, 2012, the United States Marine Corps will submit their Final Environmental Impact Study and light the fuse that starts a chain of events to close 160,000 acres of the Johnson Valley OHV area. The Johnson Valley OHV area is home to the King of the Hammers race, AMA off-road races and one of the main areas off-roaders in Southern California can ride.

If the area is closed, less than 2% of the Southern California desert would be open to OHV use!

Without your help the future of the Hammers is unclear! There’s more information in the included video, but to do your part visit the SaveTheHammers website below.

More info at: http://www.SaveTheHammers.Org

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Hammer Town, the city constructed on the Means Dry Lake Bed, is bustling with four-wheel activity leading up to the 2012 Griffin King of the Hammers. Thousands of off-roaders will venture to the Johnson Valley OHV area to partake in the festivities, and many have already enjoyed the action over the past few days leading up to the main event.

The unique race has grown every year, and for 2012 new events have been added to the lineup to further cement KOH as the must-attend hard-core rock-desert race. The Smittybilt Everyman Challenge kicked off on Sunday, offering off-roaders the chance to test the Hammers course in more restrictive vehicles. John Currie took the overall victory on the 85-mile course in a TJ, while Larry McRae won the modified class in a heavily modified Poison Spyder JK.

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.

Round 9 of the AMA/Kenda National Hare & Hound Championship Series will be hosted by AMA District 37′s So Cal MC on Sunday October 9th.  With a 4-month break in the series, racers are gearing up for the last two rounds, both of which are taking place in the Johnson Valley OHV area of the Southern California desert.  This weekend’s race will be located at East Anderson/Anderson Dry Lake (marked from Camp Rock Rd).

The upcoming Round 9 will be a 3-loop format, 100 miles total and is sure to be a favorite for all the racers who participate.  So Cal MC is pulling out all the stops and have been scouting their loops for the past few months, which will consist of all the various terrain types that Johnson Valley has to offer.  Loop 2 will have an alternate gas pit at race mile 40.  The location is easily accessible and maps to this location will be provided at sign-ups.  With some cooler weather to come this week, it is sure to be an awesome race weekend!

So Cal MC will also be hosting a kid’s race on Saturday Oct 8th at 3:00pm.  Come on out and cheer on the kids – our future desert racers!
Leading the points in the Overall Pro Class is FMF/ KTM’s Kurt Caselli, who is currently in the lead by 28 points over 2nd place racer, Purvines Racing’s David Pearson, followed by Monster Energy/ Kawasaki’s Destry Abbott who follows Pearson by 13 points in the third place position.  All of the racers who participate in this series are the best of the best and it will come down to the wire in many of the other recognized AMA National classes, including the “C” class racers who are now also recognized by the AMA.  Current results can be found at www.AmericanMotorcyclist.com
Current leaders for all other National classes (from the AMA website):
Cordis Brooks/200A, Ben Meza/200B, Austin Newman/200C,  Skyler Howes/250A, Brett Landfield/250B, Brenden Crow/250C, Jeff Trulove/Open A, Austin Aube/Open B, Colton Jones/Open C, Dan Capparelli/Vet 30+A, Dennis Maurer/Vet 30+B, Raymond Gray/Vet 30+C, David Klein/Senior 40+A, Wayne Ellis/Senior 40+B, Robert Orendain/Senior 40+C, Michael Whitcomb/Super Senior 50+A, Tom Albright/Super Senior 50+B, Richard Sidelau/Super Senior 50+C, Dale Parriott/Masters 60+, Shayla Fulfer/Women A/B, Alyssa Barger/Women C, Andy Lagzdins/ATV A, Andrea Bosemer/ATV B, Christopher Peatross/ATV C.

Holeshot awards at Round 9! The first person to the end of the bomb run in each of these 3 classes will win a pair of Alpinestars Boots/Tech 8′s:  Intermediate row, Novice Row, and ATV row.

Round 10 (final round) will be hosted by AMA District 37′s 100′s MC on Sunday October 23rd so mark your calendars!

Remember, all NHHA racers are eligible for Honda, Kawasaki, Husqvarna and KTM OEM contingency. Click on the Manufacturers bike you ride above for details or you can find all the details at:  www.NationalHareandHound.com

OAKLEY, CA (May 23) – A national trail-based recreation group continues its strong opposition to a proposed military base expansion into a popular OHV recreation area in Southern California.  The BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC) submitted comments on May 19, 2011, that are directed to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the 29 Palms Training Land Acquisition/Airspace Establishment Study.

BRC believes all of the action alternatives (1-6) are basically “closure of Johnson Valley OHV area” alternatives. The action alternatives would practically or functionally close the entire 180 thousand acre Johnson Valley OHV area to public use.

Don Amador, Western Representative for the BlueRibbon Coalition, states, “BRC has reviewed the Draft EIS and continues in our strong opposition to the entire project including the proposed withdrawal. BRC believes the EIS is fatally flawed and is not in compliance with NEPA.”

Amador continues, “BRC believes the Corps has failed to meaningfully explain the ‘need’ in the purpose and need section.  Aside from not identifying the proper basis for an increased training land-base, the purpose and need statement blithely ignores any discussion of the balance necessitated by any project of this nature. BRC believes the EIS/project should be withdrawn and shelved given its fatal flaws, public objection to the project, and national economic crisis.”

BRC continues to encourage its members to submit public comments by the May 26, 2011, deadline.

Link to BRC comment letter

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.