Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley, Calif.) introduced legislation on April 2 to designate the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area as a National Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area. Last year, the off-road community united in a successful battle to end the threat of base expansion to nearly 100,000 acres of Johnson Valley and ensured continued off-road access to the area. Cook introduced H.R. 4371 to recognize this effort and highlight Johnson Valley’s significance by making it the nation’s first national off-highway vehicle recreation area.
Cook stated, “This might seem like a small change, but it’s important. It will show that Johnson Valley is of national significance, raising its profile for economic purposes and within the federal government, which owns the land.”
Johnson Valley is explicitly designated for off-highway vehicle use under last year’s deal negotiated with the US Marine Corps. This area includes the Hammers, both the front and back side, and other topographical features such as Spooners, Aftershock, Sunbonnet, the Riffle Monument, and the Cal200 Memorial (The Rockpile). The majority of the Fry Mountains and full access to Soggy Dry Lake Bed are also guaranteed for off-highway vehicle use, as well as access to Emerson Dry Lake Bed.
This is the culmination of a years-long campaign to save the Hammers from base expansion. The famed “King of the Hammers” Race, which draws over 30,000 people to Johnson Valley, can continue to be held in Johnson Valley. The Bureau of Land Management estimates that Johnson Valley currently generates more than $71 million annually for local economies.
Cook said, “I’m proud to have been a part of the national campaign to save Johnson Valley last year. Johnson Valley is a national treasure and this bill formally recognizes it as such.”
A member of the House Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, Veterans’ Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.