AMA-logo-230PICKERINGTON, Ohio — The National Defense Authorization Act, which includes language to create the Johnson Valley National Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area in California to protect it from a military takeover, has cleared the U.S. House, the American Motorcyclist Association reports.

On June 14, the House approved the authorization bill, H.R. 1960. The measure now goes to the Senate for further consideration.

The legislation includes language written by Rep. Paul Cook (R-Calif.) to protect Johnson Valley from a takeover by the U.S. Navy that would virtually end riding there. The Navy wants to expand the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms into the 189,000-acre Johnson Valley area, which is a long-standing and popular area that is across the San Bernardino Mountains from Los Angeles.

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.

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.