SEMA eNews Vol. 15, No. 31, August 2, 2012

U.S. Marines Pursue Ownership Rights to Home of King of the Hammers Event

The U.S. Marines is seeking to expand their base at Twentynine Palms, California, to include nearly 189,000 acres of adjacent land owned by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The land is a designated off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation area and site of “King of the Hammers” and other OHV events throughout the year. The Marines would provide the OHV community with limited access to 40,000 acres for 10 months per year. 

SEMA is working with the Off-Road Business Association (ORBA), American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) and others in the “Save Johnson Valley” Coalition to preserve OHV access to Johnson Valley. The Coalition has proposed that the BLM retain ownership of the land and issue the Marines special-use permits for the two months per year they need the land for large-scale training exercises.   

The Marines' proposal is contained in a long-awaited final environmental impact statement (FEIS). Any land transfer requires congressional approval. The Coalition is working with members of Congress to provide due consideration of the BLM special permit approach. At the Coalition’s request, the U.S. House of Representatives has included a provision in the upcoming Defense Authorization Act that would require the Marines to study alternative ways to share the land with the OHV community. The Senate is expected to include the same provision in its version of the bill.  

For more information on Johnson Valley, contact Stuart Gosswein at stuartg@sema.org.