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Old 05-06-2011, 07:51 PM
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Default Johnson Valley OHV DEIS Comments Needed!


Submit Comments on the Johnson Valley Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)More Info Deadline for submission is May 26, 2011! MORE INFO

The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is encouraging riders to submit their comments regarding the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center proposed base expansion. This proposed enlargement of the facility could restrict your ability to access the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area.

Comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) are due by May 26, 2011 in order to be considered in the final EIS. They can either be submitted using the official comments website or the following mailing address:

Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest ATTN: 29Palms EIS Project Manager 1220 Pacific Highway San Diego, CA 92132-5190
The DEIS analyzes potential environmental impacts associated with the proposed base expansion. To download a copy of the DEIS (941 pages), or to find where hard copies are available for review, click here. The AMA has been working with a number of concerned groups on this issue and had previously submitted comments during the scoping phase of the DEIS. Based on our review, the "no action" alternative is simply the only acceptable option.
Johnson Valley History
The recreating public has enjoyed the open expanses of the Johnson Valley for at least the past 50 years. Located in San Bernardino County, California, this 189,000 acre open area is the largest remaining area of public land in the Western United States, and current estimates are that 800,000 1,000,000 visitors recreate throughout the area annually. Activities currently enjoyed include traditional family camping and Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) recreating, motorcycle and 4x4 competitions, rock hounding, hiking and wildlife viewing. In addition, the open landscape has made the area popular with the film industry.

Johnson Valley presents an unparalleled landscape for the OHV enthusiast. It is punctuated by steep red mountains, rolling hills, open valleys, dry lakebeds and sandy washes. Elevations range from 2,300 feet at Melville Dry Lake to 4,600 feet at Hartwell Hills. The eastern boundary is shared with the Twenty-nine Palms Marine Air-Ground Combat Center. It is used for everything from competitive racing events to casual family OHV recreation, gem and mineral collecting, rocketry, land sailing and disbursed camping. No other designated "open" area in the California desert, or indeed the entire United States, provides such a variety of recreational opportunities to the general public.

According to the California State Off- Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division (OHMVR), between 1980 and 2007 the number of registered OHVs statewide has increased by 370%. However, since 1980, the amount of dessert lands available for this type of recreation has fallen dramatically. In fact, recent Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) user surveys show an ever-increasing demand for these types of motorized recreational activities and areas. Johnson Valley is one of the most important areas left for serving this growing demand for both in state and out of state visitors.

Specific Comments
When commenting on the DEIS it is important to include your personal experiences and stories. Many issues that were raised during the scoping phase of the process have been responded to by the Marines in the DEIS. These replies are summarized in Chapter 6, Summary of Project Impacts, Mitigation Measures and Cumulative Impacts, of the DEIS. The economic impacts of this project are potentially substantial to the surrounding communities and the nation's economy. Riders are asked to share their specific experience and personal stories in their comment letter. The most effective comment is an original one that tells your story.

Examples of substantive comments would include specific statements about the frequency of your visits to the area; the amount of money spent per visit and other economic-related information.

Another important point would be a statement about how this loss of opportunity would force you and your family to frequent other recreation areas. The impact of displaced recreationists on other recreation areas is significant and will result in increased pressure on other area BLM and state lands throughout southern California and the surrounding states.

The following is a suggested format for your letter, but is only meant to be a guide. Personal experiences and stories will be more persuasive than simple blanket statement indicating support for a specific alternative or opposition to the expansion plan in general.

To date, the Marine Corp. has not provided an email address for submission of official comments. Therefore your comments must either be printed out and mailed by the official deadline (May 26) or submitted via the official comments website.

Sample text
I am writing for two purposes: (1) to register my objection to the Twenty-nine Palms Training Land Acquisition Project, and (2) to notify you that the DEIS for the project is defective with respect to its analysis of project-related impacts on the local economy, impacts for which no meaningful mitigation has been offered.

From my perspective, the only alternative I can support is the "No Action" alternative. Only the "No Action" alternative would allow continued public recreation in Johnson Valley at its current levels and also avoid economic impacts and disruptions to the surrounding communities.

My family recreates in the Johnson Valley OHV area (enter #) times a year. Our favorite places to visit in Johnson Valley are (name of specific location) , where we engage in such activities as (___) and (____) .

When preparing for a trip, we spend $ (enter amount) on fuel, groceries, and other supplies in our local area. Then, we spend an additional $ (enter amount) in the Johnson Valley/Lucerne Valley/Victorville area while we are recreating. Over the years, we have patronized the following businesses (names of business), among others, in the Johnson Valley/Lucerne Valley/Victorville Area:

If Johnson Valley, or any part of it, were to be closed due to the expansion of the Twenty-nine Palms Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center, there would be no reason for my family to travel to this part of the desert. Therefore, we would no longer spend money in Johnson Valley, Lucerne Valley, Victorville, or the other small communities that currently serve the recreating public near the proposed project site.

As written, the DEIS provides an inadequate and incomplete analysis of the project's potential impacts on the local economy. The analysis is based on unproven assumptions that contradict both common sense and my own experiences as a frequent and long-standing visitor to Johnson Valley. To suggest that the proposed Project, including the "Preferred Alternative," would result in anything other than the significant disruptions of the local economy is misleading and speculative in nature. This part of the DEIS, among others, must be completely revised and until such action is taken I can only support the "No Action" alternative.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my comments on this important matter.

Again, the official website for submitting your comments is or via the U.S. Postal Service at:
Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest
ATTN: 29Palms EIS Project Manager
1220 Pacific Highway
San Diego, CA 92132-5190
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