SEMA recommended that the U.S. Marines Corps secure special-use permits from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) when conducting troop maneuvers within Johnson Valley, California, rather than take ownership of the land as part of an expanded Twentynine Palms base. 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 only need access to Johnson Valley for less than two months per year, but are seeking ownership rights from the BLM for 56% of the land (147,000 acres). The Marines would permit limited access to less than 40,000 acres of that land for OHV activities during 10 months of the year. Any land transfer requires congressional approval.
SEMA submitted comments to the Marine Corps in favor of a shared-use compromise in which the BLM retains land ownership. Among other benefits, the Marines would be relieved of the burden of managing the land for the 10 months per year they don’t need it. Congress is in the process of enacting legislation that will require the Marines to study alternative ways to share the land with the OHV community, such as with special permits. The Johnson Valley off-road area draws at least 200,000 visitors annually and may generate as much as $191 million annually into the economy.
Read SEMA’s comments on the SEMA Action Network homepage.
For more information on Johnson Valley, contact Stuart Gosswein at firstname.lastname@example.org.