The California Motorized Recreation Council (CMRC), an umbrella group of the eight largest Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) associations in California, has organized a national effort to help save the world-renowned Johnson Valley OHV area in California. Mobilizing enthusiasts from across the country, and utilizing its relationship with the Livingston Group of Washington DC, CMRC has succeeded in its efforts to educate Congress about the unbelievable loss of public lands it has experienced since 1978 in the California Desert. The latest loss of opportunity stems from the 29 Palms Marine base expansion into the 160,000 acre Johnson Valley OHV area, which was created as part of the 1980 California Desert Protection Act.
Congressman Bartlett (R-Maryland), with the support of his Californian counterparts, requested additional information of the United States Marine Corps before the expansion could be approved, including a study of the CMRC proposal to allow the area be used by a permit for the 12 days a year the Marines plan to train. “We believe a better use of the area would be under a permit rather than closing the entire area. Securing the perimeter will be a colossal undertaking and the additional cost of acquisition can be reduced by simply using the area during training rather than closing it to the public,” stated Jeff Knoll, CMRC JV sub-committee chairman.
The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) has been delayed a number of times from its expected release last February, and is expected this week. Congressman Bartlett’s Amendment 243 to HR 4310 delays the expansion until the Marines can produce a report that explores the potential to utilize the area by permit. In addition, it requires the Marine Corps to produce this required information in the next 90 days. The complete body can be viewed below.
Congressional Record 112th Congress: House of Representatives - May 17, 2012: Page H3093
Re: NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2013
AMENDMENT NO. 53 OFFERED BY MR. BARTLETT
The Acting CHAIR. It is now in order to consider amendment No. 53 printed in House Report 112 485.
Mr. BARTLETT. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
The text of the amendment is as follows:
At the end of subtitle F of title XXVIII, add the following new section:
SEC. 28__. LIMITATION ON AVAILABILITY OF FUNDS PENDING REPORT REGARDING ACQUISITION OF LAND AND DEVELOPMENT OF A TRAINING RANGE FACILITY ADJACENT TO THE MARINE CORPS GROUND AIR COMBAT CENTER TWENTY NINE PALMS, CALIFORNIA.
(a) Findings.–Congress makes the following findings:
(1) The Marine Corps has studied the feasibility of acquiring land and developing a training range facility to conduct Marine Expeditionary Brigade level live-fire training on or near the West Coast.
(2) The Bureau of Land management estimates on national economic impact show $261.5 million in commerce at risk.
(3) Economic impact on the local community is estimated to be $71.1 Million.
(b) Limitation of Funds Pending Report.–
(1) IN GENERAL.–The Secretary of the Navy may not obligate or expend funds for the transfer of land or development of a new
gate or expend funds for the transfer of land or development of a new training range on land adjacent to the Marine Corps Ground Air Combat Center Twenty Nine Palms, California until the Secretary of the Navy has provided the Congressional defense committees a report on the Marine Corps’ efforts with respect to the proposed training range.
(2) ELEMENTS OF REPORT.–The report required under paragraph (1) shall be submitted not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act and shall include the following:
(A) A description of the actual training requirements for the proposed range and where those training requirements are currently being met to support combat deployments.
(B) Identify the impact on off-road vehicle recreational users of the land, the economic impact on the local economy, the recreation industry, and any other stakeholders.
(C) Identify any concerns discussed with the Bureau of Land Management regarding their assessments of the impact on other users.
(D) Identify the impact on the State of California’s 1980 Desert Conservation plan regarding allocation of the Off Highway Vehicle Recreation Areas.
(E) The potential to use the same land without transfer, but under specific permits for use provided by the (such as agreements at other locations under permit from the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management).
(F) Any potential on other Bureau of Land Management lands proximate to the Marine Corps Ground Air Combat Center Twenty Nine Palms or other locations in the geographic region.
(3) SECRETARY OF DEFENSE WAIVER.–In the event of urgent national need, the Secretary of Defense may notify the Congressional Committees and waive the requirement for this report.
The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 661, the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Bartlett) and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Maryland.
Mr. BARTLETT. Currently, 189,000 acres of land under control of the Bureau of Land Management adjacent to the Marine Corps Ground Air Combat Center, Twenty-Nine Palms, California, is designated by the 1980 California Desert Conservation Plan as an off-highway vehicle recreation area.
The Marine Corps wants to acquire most of this land, 160,000 acres to 189,000, including the Johnson Valley area, most heavily used for recreation.
Currently, only 2 percent of the California desert is open for motorized off-highway vehicle recreation use with half of this 2 percent being in the Johnson Valley area. The recreational community use of Johnson Valley brings in over $70 million per year to the local economy. The recreational community includes rock hounds, off-highway vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles, campers, hikers, birdwatchers, turtle watchers, model-airplane groups, and the commercial movie industry.
The Marine Corps has been working very closely with the recreational community in the Bureau of Land Management to find a compromise that’s acceptable to all parties. My amendment simply codifies an ongoing process, recognizing the intent of the Marine Corps to submit a report to the Congress recommending the accommodation of the interest of the stakeholders.
I do not believe there’s any opposition to this amendment. Indeed, the Marine Corps helped to write these talking points. The Congresspersons who do have districts close enough to be materially affected by this are not opposed to this amendment.
If there’s no overt opposition to the amendment, I am prepared to yield back the balance of my time.
I yield back the balance of my time.
The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Bartlett).
The amendment was agreed to.
The California Motorized Recreation Council is composed of the eight largest OHV associations in the State. American Sand Association (ASA) California Association of four wheel drive clubs (Cal4wheel), California Nevada Snow Mobile Association (CNSA), California Off Road Vehicle Association (CORVA), American Motorcyclists Association (AMA), AMA District 36, AMA District 37, and the Off Road Business Association (ORBA).