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Thursday, 09 May 2013 16:07

SEMA Hails Proposal to Save OHV Area at Twentynine Palms

The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) has endorsed a proposal by Rep. Paul Cook that would end a five-year debate on how to expand the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) base at Twentynine Palms, CA.  Under the compromise, the Marines would have access to the adjoining Johnson Valley Off-Highway (OHV) Recreation Area for up to 42 days a year for training exercises but the OHV area would be otherwise preserved in perpetuity.

"SEMA thanks Representative Cook for crafting legislation that addresses the needs of local residents, the OHV community and the Marine Corps," said SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting. "It represents a common sense, shared-use compromise that fairly protects the interests of all stakeholders."  

Johnson Valley is the largest OHV area in the U.S., totaling nearly 189,000 acres. It is managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The land is used year-round by OHV enthusiasts, as well as mountain bikers, equestrians and hunters. The area is also home to numerous motorized events that draw thousands of competitors and spectators to the area every year, including the famous King of the Hammers event.

The legislation protects OHV activities by establishing the "Johnson Valley National Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area" under the continued management of the BLM. The legislation also provides for public participation in determining the dates for military activities that will be the least disruptive for OHV activities.

SEMA and its SEMA Action Network (SAN) is urging lawmakers to adopt the solution and enact the legislation into law. SEMA represents thousands of companies that market products for OHV vehicles and, through the SAN, millions of enthusiasts who buy and operate these vehicles.

Before being elected to Congress, Rep. Cook served a 26-year distinguished military career in the Marine Corps before retiring as a colonel. He has lived for years in the area that includes Johnson Valley and the Twentynine Palms base and represented those communities at the local level, in the California state legislature and now in Congress.

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