California’s Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area, the largest open OHV area in the United States, is no longer on the chopping block. According to the American Motorcyclist Association, the area will not be taken over by the military thanks to language included in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 that was approved by a U.S. House-Senate conference committee.
U.S. Rep. Paul Cook (R-Calif.) had the language inserted into the bill. According to the AMA, Cook’s language ensures the safety of the residents in the Johnson Valley area while providing an adequate training area for the U.S. Marines stationed at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif.
Cook’s language designates the Johnson Valley OHV area as the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area, which will be managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Marine Corps activities will be allowed in a shared use area twice a year for a maximum of 60 days and would require use of non-dud producing ordnance.
The bill now goes to the House and Senate floors for approval before going to the president to be signed into law.
Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations, praised Cook, who is a retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel, for his efforts to protect the local economies and provide for the safety of the residents surrounding the Twentynine Palms Marine Base. The base wanted to expand its live fire training into Johnson Valley.
“It was the strong leadership and exceptional ability of Paul to work with the Natural Resources Committee and Armed Services Committees in the U.S. House and Senate that protected the popular off-highway area in Johnson Valley,” says Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations. “The Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area is the first federal land-use designation for off-highway use and becomes a precedent for future motorized recreation.”
The AMA joined with the California Motorized Recreation Council, a non-profit represented in Washington, D.C., by The Livingston Group, to work with Cook to develop the amendment that preserves access to the Johnson Valley OHV riding area.
CMRC members and partners include the Off-Road Business Association, California Association of 4-Wheel Drive Clubs, California Off-Road Vehicle Association, American Sand Association, California-Nevada Snowmobile Association, AMA District 36 (Northern California, Northwestern Nevada), AMA District 37 Off-Road (Southern California), The Partnership for Johnson Valley and countless individuals and businesses. The Specialty Equipment Market Association, the Motorcycle Industry Council and Americans for Responsible Recreational Access also provided support.