The Marine Corps have proposed a plan to close 150,000 acres of the 190,000-acre Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Riding area to riders and only allow for public use 10 months out of the year, the American Motorcyclists Association reports.
The Department of the Navy (the Marine Corps is part of the Navy) has released a final environmental statement for the expansion of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, which calls for the closing of much of the riding area. The Marines want to expand its land holdings to allow for more live-fire training beginning in 2014. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management currently holds jurisdiction over the area.
"While we certainly believe that the Marines Corps, like all of America's military branches, should be the best trained in the world, we don't believe that it is necessary to ban off-highway vehicle riders from the area to accomplish that mission," said Nick Haris, the AMA's western states representative. "We, and other concerned off-highway recreation groups, will continue working with the military and Congress to ensure the needs of both the military and the OHV community are met."
The Navy’s final environmental impact statement was released July 27, and the comment deadline is Aug. 27. The Navy plans to issue a record of decision to finalize its proposal on Sept. 28, but it would still need congressional approval.