May 18th, update regarding Amendment 243:
Save The Hammers Update:
Thank you to everyone who helped spread the word in support of Bartlett’s Amendment 243. We are happy to report that this bill passed! This support was time sensitive in nature. If you look at current minutes from Congress from May 17th, found here: http://clerk.house.gov/floorsummary/floor.aspx
you’ll see that HR4310 was discussed yesterday and the Amendment was passedat about 11PM Eastern. It was important to let our representatives know that voting to pass that bill was the right thing to do.
Why do we support this Amendment?
4310 is the bill to approve the 2013 budget for the Military. All Military branches need this bill to pass to have their funding for 2013, which makes it hard for this bill to be fully vetoed, unless you are the President of the US. However, the bill can be amended to make it difficult for the Marines to acquire Johnson Valley easily. This is done by placing an amendment on the bill which will require the Marines to do further work to prove that they need this land, and to work with the OHV community to see the impact it will have on our industry and our community. The fact that a Congressman has stood up and sponsored an amendment like this, on an appropriations bill no less, will get our cause a lot of attention in DC and also show The Marines that we mean business.
How was this Amendment created?
Senator Bartlett was contacted by several members of the off-road community during our OHV Lobby Days. He was educated on the situation in Johnson Valley. Several off-road advocates have kept him in the loop on what is happening and with 4310 appearing in Congress, the time was right to make a political move. There is usually very little time to get an amendment approved and voted on once a bill is on the floor, so several members of the off-road community acted quickly to help Congressman Bartlett draft this resolution.
Will this Amendment Stop the Marines from Taking Johnson Valley?
This is a tough question to answer. There are several things the Marines need in order to take over the Johnson Valley OHV Area. 1. They need to release their Final Environmental Impact Study. This FEIS was supposed to be released last month, however it has already been delayed a month. Some speculate this delay is because of the efforts of off roaders to date. 2. The Marines need to have the funds to finance managing the expansion of the Marine Base. Part of that funding could be incorporated into Bill HR4310. The one to which Congressman Bartlett added the Amendment requiring the Marines to produce further documentation. 3. They need an act of Congress to transfer the land from BLM to the Department of The Navy. If they don’t get out the FEIS, and they don’t have the budget for the expansion, it will be more difficult for The Marines to get an act of Congress to approve the expansion. We plan on trying to stop the expansion and work with the Marines at each one of these steps.
What else is being done to Save The Hammers?
Many individuals are still volunteering their time on a daily and weekly basis to continue the fight to Save the Hammers and Johnson Valley. A group of off road organizations have come together as members of the California Motorized Recreation Council (CMRC). CMRC is comprised of groups like AMA, CORVA, ORBA, CAL4Wheel, District 36 and Disctrict 37 among others. A sub-committee focused on Johnson Valley has been created that meets weekly discussing how to save Johnson Valley. CMRC voted a month ago to hire a lobbyist group, The Livingston Group, in Washington DC to help us take our fight to the capitol. The Livingston Group agreed to work with us in part because they saw how hard the off road community is working. Our letter writing campaign which produced more than 20,000 letters last year, and our Economic Impact Report that was created based on a survey completed by thousands earlier this year, were both viewed as examples of how organized our efforts have been to Save Johnson Valley. The efforts made by many during OHV Lobby days in April to contact their local representatives and educate them on Johnson Valley have also lead to our success with taking this fight to Washington.
What else can I do to help Save the Hammers?
Keep educating your elected officials. If you have not written to or asked for a meeting with your congressman or senator, please do! We have found that when we need to act quickly with our representatives, it is much easier when we have been in regular communication with them prior to needing their support. They know who we are when we call and email if we’ve been in to meet with them.
Keep responding to our requests when we ask you to call or email your representatives. We know it gets tiresome after a while, and it’s hard to see that we are making a difference, but I assure you we are! They hear us when we speak to them in numbers. Our elected officials and The Marines need to see we are organized and continuing to fight to keep our public lands open!
Make donations and encourage others to do so as well! Hiring a lobbyist group and fighting the Marines is an expensive endeavor. We continually need to raise funds to keep this fight going. Our goal is $250,000 and we have raised about $90,000 of that so far. If you have products or services you’d like to auction off, if you’d like to make a donation or know of a company that would like to make a donation to help Save the Hammers; this is what is needed.
This is a cause being fought for on many levels. Anything and everything you can do to help Save The Hammers is greatly appreciated. Thank you for continuing to fight to keep the Johnson Valley OHV area open.
Bill HR 4310 is before Congress today. If this bill passes as is, it will give the Marines the necessary funding to acquire the Johnson Valley OHV area. Representative Bartlett has been a huge advocate to the OHV Community and has proposed an amendment Amendment 243 that will require the Marines to tell us specifically what type of training they need this land for, and to also further consider the impact to the OHV community. Adding this amendment requires the Marines to do further work before taking over Johnson Valley AND lets the Marines know we mean business!
Please email or call your US Representative Immediately! If they have a facebook page, please leave a message there as well! You can find your representative by clicking on this link: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/ and tell them that you support the Bartlett Amendment 243 to Bill HR 4310. Explain what Johnson Valley and The Hammers mean to you. Here is a list of additional Talking Points you can use when contacting your representative. In your email, Please share this link as well. It is the Economic Impact Report created by ORBA.
The Economic Impact report shows that it would be an economic loss of at least $261 million annually for the off road industry and $71 Million for the local economy. That we need the Marines to work with us on this and you want your representative to support the Amendment that is going before the House TODAY!
Support the Bartlett Amendment to Request a Report from the U.S. Marine Corps on the proposed expansion of the Marine Corps Ground Air Combat Center Twenty-Nine Palms to work with all stakeholders in the Johnson Valley Area
Bartlett Amendment 243 to HR 4310
Request for Marine Corps Land Acquisition Report
- · Currently, 189,000 acres of land under control of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), adjacent to the Marine Corps Ground Air Combat Center Twenty-Nine Palms, California, is designated by the 1980 California Desert Conservation Plan as an off-highway vehicle recreation area.
- · The Marine Corps wants to acquire 160,000 acres of this land, including the Johnson Valley area most heavily used for recreation.
- · Currently, only 2% of the California Desert is open for motorized off-highway vehicle recreation use with half of the land in the Johnson Valley area.
- · The Recreational Community use of Johnson Valley brings in over $70 million per year to the local economy. The Recreational Community includes: Rock Hounds, Off-Highway Vehicles, Motorcycles, Bicycles, Campers, Hikers, Bird Watchers, Turtle Watchers, Model Airplane Groups and Commercial Movie Industry.
- · US Marine Corps has been working very closely with the Recreational Community and the Bureau of Land Management to find a compromise as acceptable to all parties.
- · The Marines plan to use this land for Marine Air Ground Task Force live fire and maneuver training year round while reserving 40,000 acres for co-use by the recreational community 10 months out of the year.
- · The Marine Corps is in the process of completing an Environmental Impact Study on the proposed expansion of 29 Palms.
- · Stakeholders in this region are working towards resolution for the proposed expansion.
- · I am very supportive of Marine Corps training, but want to ensure all the stakeholders have the opportunity to review the Marine Corps Report and work towards a common solution to minimize the impact on Johnson Valley for all stakeholders:
1. A description of the actual training requirements for the proposed range and where those training requirements are currently being met to support combat deployments.
2. Identify the impact on the off-road vehicle recreational users of the land, the economic impact on the local economy, the recreational industry and other stakeholders
3. Identify any concerns with the Bureau of Land Management in their assessments of the impact on other users
4. Identify the impact on the State of California’s Desert Conservation plan regarding allocation of the Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Areas
5. Potential to use the same land without transfer, but under specific permits for use by the BLM
6. Any potential on other BLM lands near the Marine Corps Ground Combat Center Twenty-nine Palms or other locations in the geographic region