California OHV Groups Hire Lobbyist to Save OHV Area
California’s OHV community is fighting to save the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area, the largest open OHV area in the United States.
The California Motorized Recreation Council (CMRC), an umbrella group of the eight largest OHV access groups in California, has hired the Livingston Group, LLC in Washington, DC to help stave off the expansion of the 29 Palms Marine Base. The Marine Corps wants to annex approximately 160,000 acres of the Johnson Valley OHV Area, which currently brings in more than $70 million annually to the economy surrounding the High Desert communities.
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 percent of the recreational opportunities in the California Desert,” says Fred Wiley, the president of the Off-Road Business Association. “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.”
The Marine Corps only plans to hold training exercises 24 days each year in Johnson Valley.
“Our primary objective was to figure out a way in which everyone could get what they needed. Rather than draw a line in the sand, we are proposing the Marine Corps work with us to meet those needs. To accomplish our goals, we had to pass our message to professionals in DC, and that’s where the Livingston Group comes in,” says Jerry Grabow, American Motorcyclists Association District 37 Off-Road president. “It’s a departure from our normal way of dealing with the loss of OHV recreation opportunities.”
Unifying a diverse group of OHV enthusiasts from across the state, CMRC delegates voted overwhelmingly to support the contract with the Livingston Group. The move supports a re-enforced position by off-roaders who are willing to go all the way to Washington, DC to maintain motorized recreation in Johnson Valley.