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Government Looks to Protect California Land for OHV Recreation

Posted in News on July 19, 2018
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The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill (HR 857) to permanently protect five existing off-highway vehicle (OHV) areas in California. The areas include Spangler Hills, El Mirage, Rasor, Dumont Dunes, and Stoddard Valley. The “California Off-Road Recreation and Conservation Act” would also designate Johnson Valley as an OHV Recreation Area and expand it by over 11,000 acres. In total, the bill protects over 300,000 acres for off-road enthusiasts to recreate.

California Republican Representative Paul Cook oversees the 8th congressional district, an area that serves San Bernardino, Inyo, and Mono counties, and sponsors Bill HR 857. Cook is from Yucca Valley, just a few miles from the Johnson Valley Hammer trails. HR 857 was first introduced into the House of Representatives in February 2017. It passed a House vote on June 25, 2018.

Johnson Valley is home to the King of the Hammers (KOH) race, which has exploded in popularity over the years. Every year for two weeks in February, thousands of rockcrawling enthusiasts from all over the world converge on Means Dry Lake to watch the best of the best compete in a weeklong series of events on the Hammer trails. They also bring their own rigs to crawl trails that are not closed during the KOH event. Johnson Valley was in danger of being lost when the nearby 29 Palms Marine base wanted to grab the land for military training. Off-Roaders lobbied the government and a compromise was finally made. The area is closed off for a few weeks in the summertime for military training. The Hammers see very little traffic from off-roaders during the summer due to the high temperatures of the desert.

The next step for HR 857 is the floor of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. SEMA is asking everyone to contact their local Senator to support the bill.

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