WASHINGTON (Dec. 16, 2013) — The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a solution to create a dedicated off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation area in Southern California and provide land for training to the U.S. Marine Corps.
According to the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA)—which has worked with several organizations for passage of the legislation—the U.S. Senate is set to ratify the measure this week then send the bill to President Barack Obama for his signature, making it law. The SEMA Action Network (SAN) “strongly supports this action to end a six-year clash over access to 189,000 acres of Southern California desert between the military and OHV users,” the trade group said.
A provision included within the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) creates the “Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area,” providing federal protection to over 96,000 acres established in 1980 for OHV recreation by the State of California, SEMA said. It is the first time an OHV area has been provided national recognition.
The legislation also transfers 79,000 acres of Johnson Valley to the adjoining Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, Calif. Twice a year, 53,000 acres of the OHV area will be provided to the Marine Corps for 30 days of military training exercises, according to the legislation. No dud-producing ordnance will be used at that time in order to assure safety and continued access to the area.
A map of the proposed land boundaries can be found by clicking here.
SEMA said the Johnson Valley OHV Recreation Area will continue to be controlled by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
The area is describes as a unique mix of open desert, dry lake beds and formidable rock-crawling formations that attracts off-roaders from around the world. The area hosts the famous “King of the Hammers” Race, which drew over 50,000 people to the 2013 event, SEMA said. The BLM estimates that Johnson Valley generates more than $71 million annually for local economies.
The SAN worked collaboratively, according to SEMA, with the Off-Road Business Association (ORBA); California Motorized Recreation Council (CMRC); Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) and Americans for Responsible Recreational Access (ARRA). CMRC includes ORBA; California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs (Cal4Wheel); California Off-Road Vehicle Association (CORVA); California-Nevada Snowmobile Association (CNSA); American Motorcyclist Association National (AMA); AMA District 36; AMA District 37 Off-Road; San Diego Off-Road Coalition (SDORC); and American Sand Association (ASA).
SEMA said it “will continue to urge Senators to act quickly to approve the NDAA without changes.”