Send a Letter To Help Save Johnson Valley (1 Viewer)

May 8, 2008


Dear BRC Action Alert Subscriber,

The Marine Base at Twentynine Palms is considering expanding because they claim to need more room for training purposes. The proposed expansion could functionally close most, if not all, of the Johnson Valley OHV Area. In order for the Marines to expand the base they need to go through a public process called the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In NEPA, it is very important that the OHV community submit letters during this scoping process requesting the Department of the Navy analyze impacts they feel would be made by the proposed project and to offer alternatives. Now is the time when we can have an impact on the proposed project. The deadline for submitting these comments is January 31, 2009.

During the fall, the BlueRibbon Coalition attended several OHV leadership meetings regarding the Johnson Valley issue. The suggested letter below is based on collaboration with, and input from, AMA D37, ORBA, CA4WDC, Partnership with Johnson Valley, Friends of Johnson Valley, and other groups, specialists, and interests. This letter includes a variety of scoping comments. Select the comments that convey the issues that are most important to you and your family. Include as many or as few as you feel necessary, and feel free to change the wording.

Thank you in advance for your support,
Don Amador
Western Representative
BlueRibbon Coalition

PS: BRC needs your support via membership and donations to help us continue our efforts to champion responsible OHV access to public lands. To sign up as a member or to make a donation, go to:

The United States Marine Corps is planning to expand its 598,000 acre Air Ground Combat Center at 29 Palms in southern California, to increase its live-fire training facilities. In order to do this expansion, they are preparing to take over 180,000 acres of BLM land in Johnson Valley.

The transfer of these public lands would be devastating to the recreating public and effectively shut the OHV community out of one of the most important and highly prized OHV trail systems on the west coast.

Recreationists need to send comments on the USMC Expansion Project before January 31, 2009!

If you want, you can use BRC's letter generator, but please know that personal emails are much more effective! ( It has an easy interface for adding additional comments and sending your letter.

Old-fashioned snail mail is also effective. If you prefer, you can mail written comments, but please make sure they are postmarked by January 31, 2009. Mail written comments to:

Land Acquisition Program Manager
P.O. Box 788104, Bldg 1554 Rm 138
Twentynine Palms, CA 92278-8104

Be polite. Be Professional. Be on time. (The comment deadline is Saturday, January 31, 2009)

1. Open your email program and begin an email to:

2. In the Subject Line of your email, please put: "Scoping Comment on Training Land/Airspace Acquisition Study"

3. It's always good to include a brief paragraph about how much you and your family enjoy motorized use on BLM lands. Then use the comment suggestions below to write your email.


Land Acquisition Program Manager
P.O. Box 788104, Bldg 1554 Room 138
Twentynine Palms, CA 92278-8104



RE: Scoping comments for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) to study alternatives for meeting the Marine Corps Marine Expeditionary Brigade sustained, combined arms, live-fire and maneuver training requirements.

Dear Land Acquisition Manager:

As an interested member of the public, I am writing to you today because my family and I enjoy outdoor recreation in the 180,000 acre Johnson Valley OHV Area. I am aware that the Marines are proposing to expand their Twentynine Palm base based on claims that the expansion is needed in order to fulfill their training requirements. The loss of this destination recreation area would be devastating to my family and thousands of others like us that recreate with OHVs at Johnson Valley.

Because this loss would have such a great impact on my family I would like to suggest that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) study the following items:

The DEIS must study the possibility of the Marines expanding to the east. This option impacts OHV recreationists to the least possible extent. Expansion to the east is supported by every major national, state, and local OHV group. It is also supported by
resolutions recently passed by the Town of Yucca Valley and the Town of Apple Valley.

The DEIS must study the possibility that both the recreationists and the Marines could share the Johnson Valley OHV Area. A co-use alternative should be studied so that the area will not be completely removed from the public domain.

The DEIS must assess the cumulative impact of the loss of OHV area if the marines choose to expand into the Johnson Valley OHV Area. The U.S. Forest Service is implementing their Travel Management Rule and as a result the surrounding local forest areas that might otherwise absorb some of the former Johnson Valley recreation are also seeing large closures of available OHV routes.

The DEIS must assess the increased costs resulting from the loss of the Johnson Valley OHV Area with respect to properly signing limited use areas and implementing an education campaign about where the appropriate remaining riding areas are located. There are approximately 500,000 registered off-highway vehicles in Southern California. Many of these users will look for a new place to ride if Johnson Valley is not available. Many areas that are currently off limits to OHV travel are not properly signed as such. A large amount of money will be needed to purchase and install the proper signage.

The DEIS must assess the increased law enforcement costs to federal, state and local jurisdictions with respect to enforcing trespass on private property and other areas where OHV travel is not allowed. Many OHV recreationists that will be misplaced by the closure of Johnson Valley will look for other areas to recreate in. Until proper signage is in place in federal, state and local areas, law enforcement will need to be increased.

The DEIS must assess the economic impact the loss of the Johnson Valley OHV Area will have on the local community. While a large number of the people that recreate in Johnson Valley do not live there, they do stimulate the local economy with their purchases of gas, groceries, parts and miscellaneous camping supplies.

The DEIS must assess the economic impact the loss of the Johnson Valley OHV Area would have on the larger Southern California region. Many users of this area live in neighboring counties. When these users make large ticket purchases they usually do so in the area where they live. The closure of Johnson Valley would significantly reduce sales of such items as motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs, dune buggies, rock crawlers, motorhomes, trailers and their associated tow vehicles. The businesses that service and modify these types of vehicles would also be negatively affected.

The DEIS must study where the current 800,000-1,000,000 annual visitors will recreate if Johnson Valley is closed. It has been estimated that Johnson Valley OHV Area hosts between 800,000 and 1,000,000 visitors each year. Where will these users go to recreate if that area is not available in the future?

The DEIS must study the possibility of opening up BLM land that is currently closed to OHV use. This study should look at land use amendments to allow for OHV recreation and competition to occur in areas that are currently off-limits to OHV use.

The DEIS must study the possibility of purchasing privately-owned property to compensate the OHV Community for lost opportunity in Johnson Valley. This study should look not only at areas in San Bernardino County, but the surrounding counties as well.

The DEIS must incorporate a plan that returns the Johnson Valley OHV Area to public use once it has fulfilled its usefulness to the military. In all likelihood the military will not need to train in this manner indefinitely. When no longer needed by the military, the military should be required to clean up the area and return it to public use.

The DEIS must explain in detail the USMC's purpose and need for the proposed expansion of the base. To date, the USMC has been exceedingly vague as to the need for the proposed project, stating only that "past experience" indicates three Marine Expeditionary Brigades must train simultaneously in order for the Marines to prepare properly for war. Given that the proposed withdrawal of public land is unprecedented in size and scope, and in terms of its impacts on the non-military public, the DEIS must provide much more information as to the purpose of the project and why it is essential to military readiness.

The DEIS must evaluate and disclose the cost of the proposed expansion, including the ongoing, perpetual costs of the contemplated training mission. The U.S. Government is operating at a dangerous deficit-one that will only grow in the next few years as the new economic stimulus packages are implemented. Defense spending, apart from being a disproportionately large part of the federal budget, is notoriously wasteful. The DEIS must demonstrate to an apprehensive public that the costs of the proposed project, including those relating to ongoing training, have been accurately predicted and can be covered with existing funds.

The DEIS must explain why the Marines propose to use an outdated model that requires segregated training instead of looking at a 21st Century integrated training model. Desert warfare today is a prime example of battlefield integration between the various branches of the military. In proximity to the existing Marine base are thousands of square miles of lands already reserved for military training. Such areas include Fort Irwin, the Barry Goldwater Bombing Range, and Yuma Proving Grounds.

I would like to thank you for this opportunity to comment on the scope of the DEIS. I look forward to reviewing a draft DEIS that answers these and all other relevant questions concerning the project impacts on the Johnson Valley OHV Area and surrounding communities.

Very truly yours,

Your name &


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