PICKERINGTON, Ohio — The U.S. military can’t spend a dime on expanding a Marine base into the popular Johnson Valley off-highway vehicle riding area in California until the Navy files a report on off-highway riding with Congress, the American Motorcyclist Association reports.

On Jan. 2, President Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (H.R. 4310), triggering a hold on spending and a 90-day deadline for the military to report to Congress on how its proposed expansion of a Marine base at Twentynine Palms, Calif., would affect off-highway riding at Johnson Valley.

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.”

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.