FROM THE HILL
By Eric Snyder
Ultra4s Rock Johnson Valley
One Year Later, Legislative Accord Preserves OHV Recreation
Johnson Valley is a unique setting north of Palm Springs, California, that combines open desert, dry lake beds and extreme rock-crawling trails. The land offers riding opportunities for every skill level. The Johnson Valley area was originally set aside in 1980 for OHV recreation by the State of California on land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
However, until recently, the future of Johnson Valley was in doubt. For nearly six years, access to the land had been debated in California and in Congressional offices in Washington, D.C. At issue was a need for additional lands to train Marines at the Twentynine Palms combat center. In a compromise supported by the OHV community, Congress passed legislation to provide permanent federal protection to 96,000 acres of land for OHV activities while transferring 79,000 acres to the U.S. Marine Corps facility. The net effect was a win for both sides.
“Johnson Valley has demonstrated that the industry and the enthusiast community can join forces to achieve legislative success,” said SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting.
“It is a model that can be applied across the country, since many other popular off-roading areas are under similar threats of closure.”
There is still one important goal to be achieved: including the word “national” within the Johnson Valley title. Although the area is already the only federally recognized OHV area, the new designation will acknowledge the land’s national significance.
U.S. Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA)—a former Marine Corps colonel himself—represents the area in Congress and played a critical role in reaching the 2013 accord with the U.S. Marines. He will be leading the charge in 2015 on behalf of this special recognition. SEMA will be climbing over boulders in Washington in support.
Roadblock as racers try to climb Jackhammer.
SEMA PAC President’s Club Spotlight: Wade Kawasaki
Wade Kawasaki is the president and chief operating officer of the Coker Group, which is headquartered in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He is a four-year member of the SEMA PAC President’s Club and was inducted into the SEMA Hall of Fame in 2013.
“We feel that it is vital to our industry to have a meaningful presence in Washington, D.C., not only to be on watch for unintended consequences of legislation but also to aggressively pursue alliances that we will need in the future,” Kawasaki said. “We live in a global environment, and building our businesses is no longer just about what we can do for ourselves but what we can do together, because left on our own, we can’t ‘make a dent.’”
For more information on SEMA PAC, contact SEMA PAC and Congressional Relations Manager Christian Robinson at 202-783-6007 x20 or firstname.lastname@example.org.