Legislation that would end a five-year debate on how to expand the U.S. Marine Corps base at Twentynine Palms, California has been included in HR 1960, the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), greatly increasing the likelihood of approval. The provision, authored by Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA), allows the Marines to have access to the adjoining Johnson Valley OHV Recreation Area for up to 60 days a year for training exercises but the OHV area would be otherwise preserved for recreational use. No longer a standalone bill, Rep. Cook’s provision will become law when the NDAA is approved by both the House and Senate and signed by the President.
The provision protects OHV activities by establishing the "Johnson Valley National Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area" under continued management by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). It provides for public participation in determining the dates for military activities that will be the least disruptive for OHV activities. The land is used year-round by OHV enthusiasts and is home to numerous motorized events that draw thousands of competitors and spectators to the area every year, including the famous King of the Hammers.
The SEMA Action Network (SAN) will continue to urge lawmakers to act quickly to approve the NDAA, which authorizes military funding and includes the Johnson Valley provision. HR 1960 will soon be considered by the full House of Representatives. A similar bill will be debated and adopted by the Senate later this summer. A conference committee will develop a final compromise bill later this year. Final passage of the NDAA is not expected until the end of the year.