SEMA News—March 2014
Persistence Pays Off For Off-Road Enthusiasts
After six years of back-and-forth and negotiations that spanned not only the U.S. Congress but also the U.S. military (the Marine Corps, to be precise), a compromise has been negotiated to keep 96,000 acres of land open to off-road enthusiasts in the Johnson Valley OHV area near Twentynine Palms, California.
SEMA and the SEMA Action Network (SAN) worked closely with a number of organizations related to the off-road community to support this provision, which keeps a large portion of the area open to off-road and outdoor enthusiasts while at the same time providing for the needs of the U.S. military. One of SAN’s initiatives is to look for practical solutions to off-road use questions to preserve the rights of the nation’s enthusiast communities. SEMA is gratified that, after six years, a win-win compromise could be enacted to the benefit of all parties involved.
Dirt Sport Nation noted that SEMA strongly supported this shared-use solution to the six-year battle over Johnson Valley. SEMA considers this a positive development for both the U.S. Marines and OHV community. A key agreement provision states that Johnson Valley will still be under U.S. Bureau of Land Management control. It is estimated that the area generates more than $71 million annually for local economies. SEMA has been advocating for a practical solution to this standoff since the very beginning.
Four Wheeler reported that the Johnson Valley compromise proposal was led by Congressman Paul Cook. The magazine recognized that this agreement meets the needs of the Marine Corps while maintaining enthusiast access to Johnson Valley.
By virtue of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014, federal protection will be provided to an area of California that was established in 1980 for OHV recreation. SEMA strongly supports this compromise between the military and off-highway vehicle users.
The Press-Enterprise Blog
The Press-Enterprise, Johnson Valley’s local newspaper, noted in its blog that Johnson Valley is significant, as it spans 188,000 acres, is the largest OHV area in the United States and draws about 200,000 visitors a year.
That is why SEMA has closely monitored the progress of these negotiations for six years and joined forces with the nation’s leading off-road advocacy groups.
Off-Road.com reported that a provision in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act sets aside more than 96,000 acres for off-road use. That land will be federally protected for off-road enthusiasts. The website indicated that this is the first time a recreational area has been provided with national recognition. Of particular note is that SEMA collaborated with such organizations as the Off-Road Business Association, California Off-Highway Vehicle Association and Americans for Responsible Recreational Access to find a compromise solution.