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JOHNSON VALLEY OHV AREA

 September 6, 2014

Johnson Valley Company Objective Sites

On the morning of Saturday, September 6th, the Marine Corps and BLM hosted a tour of proposed 'Company Objective Sites' in the Johnson Valley OHV Area. The goal of the tour was to obtain public input for a final decision on the placement of two 'Company Objectives' to be placed on the shared use area of the Johnson Valley OHV Area. These sites will be targets representing enemy positions as the battalions come through Fissure Pass and travel north of the dry lakebed, and then further northward toward the Exclusive Military Use Area. Three sites were proposed.

Particpants included representatives of the Johnson Valley Improvement Association, the California Off-Road Vehicle Association (CORVA), Victor Valley Four Wheelers, the Morongo Basin Conservation Association, the Johnson Valley-Lucerne Valley Municipal Advisory Council, the Homestead Valley Community Council and Hammerking Productions.

The group toured the proposed 'Company Objectives" and noted that Objective #2 is close to Mean Lake Camping Grounds, where children recreate. On long weekends and during the King of the Hammers race week this site is visited by tens of thousands of people. Therefore, this site was deemed unsuitable.Objective #3 appeared to be the least obtrusive, best sheltered and the battalions will be aiming at the direction of the base, rather than nearby residences. The noise also may be blocked  from local residences by surrounding hills. Objective #1 was on a far slope across the open valley.

Therefore Objectives #1 & #3 appear to be the least obstructive and present the least danger to visitors and local residents alike. CORVA recommends Objectives #1 & #3 as the locations of the 'Company Objectives".

Please take time to comment!

Johnson Valley OHV Area Map depicting Exclusive Military Use and Shared Use Areas:

JV OHV MAP

Please send your comments to Katrina Symons, Bureau of Land Management Barstow Field Office Manager at mailto:ksymons@blm.gov tel: 760-252-6004 or the Marines Corps Public Affairs Office at mailto:SMBPLMSWEBPAO@usmc.mil tel: 760-830-6213


Johnson Valley OHV Area News Update!

Want to see first hand where the Marine Corps are proposing to locate company training objective areas in the Military/Shared Use Area of Johnson Valley?  You can learn more, or comment about the proposed company objective areas, with representatives from the Marines at each of the three proposed locations on Saturday, September 6, from 7:30-11:00 am.  The Marines plan to have the areas marked to give a visual reference as to the extent of anticipated impacts of a 22-acre company objective site.  These will serve as enemy-held positions during training. Katrina Symons, Field Manager of the Bureau of Land Management Barstow Field Office will be available at objective areas 1 and 2 during the morning. 

4-WHEEL-DRIVE access, don't get stuck!

GPS Coordinates of the objective areas are:

Objective #1  -116.504, 34.449402  Near Los Padres Mine
Objective #2  -116.516, 34.425999  North of Means Lake, near the entrance to Backdoor Trail,
Objective #3  -116.441, 34.391399  Further north

Background:

 On August 16, 2014 representatives from the Bureau of Land Management and the Marine Corps hosted a public meeting with the Resource Management Group meeting in Lucerne Valley to review the upcoming changes to the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area and how it will be managed in the future.

The purpose of the August 16th meeting was to discuss the future locations of the Marine’s company objective areas within the Military/Shared Use Area for military training in accordance with Military Land Withdrawals Act of 2013 (Public Law 113-66).  This act allows the Marines exclusive use of the Military/Shared Use Area of Johnson Valley for training during two one-month durations each year.  The public will have access the remaining 10 months out of the year. 

During the meeting the Resource Management Group announced the September 6, 2014 opportunity to visit the proposed objective areas.

Additional Resources: Johnson Valley OHV Area Map depicting Exclusive Military Use and Military/Shared Use Areas - http://www.29palms.marines.mil/Portals/56/Docs/G4/LAS/MCAGCC%20Johnson%20Valley%20Boundary%20Map%20opt.pdf

If you have questions or comments, contact
Katrina Symons, Field Manager
Barstow Field Office, BLM   760-252-6004
Email: ksymons@blm.gov
  or
Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center
Public Affairs Office, 760-830-6213
SMBPLMSWEBPAO@usmc.mil

 * see latest map at bottom of page


The Johnson Valley OHV Area has been the focus of the OHV community for many years, since the Marine Corps announced their intention to annex the area to the 29 Palms Marine Base. This is the most recent information, with thanks to Betty Munson:

The community of Johnson Valley has drawn many full-time residents from adventurous souls who wanted to escape the LA megalopolis and came to the high desert to play, then to stay.

The jewel in the crown of our homestead settlement was the Johnson Valley Open Riding Area, set aside for recreation, just across the highway. Unique freedom to roam on any trail and camp anywhere, unique landscape, unique history. Nowhere else like it.

New Federal law has mandated that we, the people, lost a big chunk of these public lands to the 29 Palms Marine Base, and must share part of the remaining territory twice a year for massive training activities originating on the Base.

On Saturday, Aug. 16, the new Resource Management Group, a combined effort of the BLM and the USMC, had a public meeting in Lucerne Valley. Only eight residents of Johnson Valley came, but there were many other locals, and representatives from several OHV groups. The Community Center was full.

The RMG tried to stay on topic: the preferred sites for two temporary company objectives in the shared public-military zone, to be enemy-held positions during training.

However, many other questions arose; some too late, the deal is done; some concerning the difficulties of shared use, most of which the Marines were alerted to in our comments for the Environmental Impact Statement, before the law passed.


How will the Corps tell the world that territory is off limits twice a year, during different months every year?
How will the people who live around the Base be informed about the twice-a-year air-ground combat training with three battalions invading at the same time?
How do you stop accidental trespass through the huge perimeter?
What can be done about our property damage, frightened animals, noise?

After all that, the location of company objectives kinda fell through the cracks.

On behalf of the Johnson Valley residents, we thank the Lucerne Valley residents and the OHV Clubs who passed the word about the meeting, and who spoke up about the problems of shared use, and came up with some good ideas to advance the process.

Co-operation between the BLM and the USMC is a given, co-operation among the myriads of users of the Johnson Valley Off Highway Vehicle Area is a must, if we are to retain our remaining rights to use this place, and its value to the economy of the high desert.

In the audience we saw and heard representatives of:

  • -Victor Valley 4 Wheelers, who established the first Hammers Trails years ago, and do other volunteer trail maintenance   www.victorvalley4wheelers.com
  • -Friends of Giant Rock, who work to clean up the desert, promote responsible riding and protect visitors from accidental trespass over the Base border, AND do land use issues   www.friends of giantrock.com
  • -American Motorcycle Association District 37, who hold events here every year, and work for motorcyclist rights   www.district37ama.org
  • -Hammerking Productions, whose King of the Hammers race each February has grown in eight years to the point of drawing race teams from all over the globe and an estimated 45,000 visitors in 2014, and whose worldwide Ultra4 racing circuit has spread the legend of Johnson Valley everywhere    www.ultra4racing.com/tag/hammerking-productions
  • -California Off Road Vehicle Association, who work tirelessly to keep public lands open for public use   www.corva.org
    -Film Inland Empire,  who are the official advocate for the filming interests in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties   www.filminlandempire.com   
  • -Rescue 3, whose highly-trained volunteers provide emergency services to desert racers and the public   www.rescuethree.com/
  • -Lucerne Valley Market & Hardware, who are famous for catering to the needs of the recreational visitor to Johnson Valley


Many organized off-road groups hold events in Johnson Valley, and have done so for many years. Without their support, the tiny community of Johnson Valley would have had nothing but Marine Base in the front yard. As it is, some of us will be very close to the twice-a-year 30-day large-scale training activities in the Shared Use Area.

  1. We are assured no dud-producing ordnance will be used
  2. We are assured nothing will be aimed in our direction.
  3. We learned that it looks like no major training will take place before the Fall of 2016.
  4. We learned that surveying for the placement of signs on the new boundaries is ongoing, that the results will be published in the Federal Register, everyone’s favorite light reading.
  5. We learned that the BLM will have 18-20 months advance warning of Marine training dates in the Shared Use Area.
  6. We won’t know about the expanded airspace until the FAA does its bit.
  7. We learned the Marines will blade smooth some major routes into the war zone.
  8. We were assured the training would not be set for holiday weekends.


The RMG was asked to provided paper notices in post offices, libraries, etc. in the neighborhood of the Base, to warn those who do not use e-mail or smart phones of upcoming battles.
They were asked to inform us of which media were being sent the PR notices, so we could make sure that they cover the story prominently.
They were asked if they were required to buy advertising, as does SCE for transmission line planning etc.
They were informed that permits for recreational activities are usually requested for dates from October through May.

The Exclusive Military Use Area to the north will not necessarily return to desert silence after the training activities end. The law reads, it is to be used as well for (2) Individual and unit live-fire training ranges, and (3) Equipment and tactics development.

We hear that kind of noise now, even from miles away, originating within the former Base borders. Soon it will be much closer. The Exclusive Military border is maybe three miles north of Means Lake, some six miles north of Hwy 247 at Larrea Rd.


Self-Guided Tour of company objectives in the Shared Use Area:
If you want to learn more, or comment about the proposed company objective areas, representatives from the Marines and BLM will be at each of the proposed locations on Saturday, September 6, from 7:30-11:00 am.  Marines plan to have an area marked to give a visual reference as to the extent of anticipated impact of a 22-acre company objective site.
4-WHEEL-DRIVE access, don't get stuck!
GPS co-ordinates are:
Objective #1  -116.504, 34.449402  Near Los Padres Mine
Objective #2  -116.516, 34.425999  North of Means Lake, near the entrance to Backdoor Trail,
Objective #3  -116.441, 34.391399  Further north, 

If you have questions or comments, contact
Katrina Symons, Field Manager
Barstow Field Office, BLM   760-252-6004
Email: ksymons@blm.gov

  or
Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center
Public Affairs Office, 760-830-6213
SMBPLMSWEBPAO@usmc.mil

Attachments: maps of the objectives in the Shared Use Area, and the legislation relating to the Marine Base expansion, supplied by the BLM.

2014 August 16 RMG Meeting Company Objective Areas Map.pdf

JohnsonValleyCompanyObjectiveSitesMay 2014.pdf

JV Relevant Excerpts from Public Law 113-66.docx

JV_Subregion Map update May 2014.pdf


Take the Self-Guided Tour. Come to the next meeting. Don't let somebody else do it.

Although we may have our differences of opinions, we thank the US Marine Corps for their faithful service.




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