California- Update on Johnson Valley-Final EIS Available Hot
As many of you know, the Department of Defense has proposed a major expansion of the Twentynine Palms Marine Base. The expansion would threaten continued use of the popular Johnson Valley OHV area.
The required Final Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed expansion is out for public review and comment. The FEIS is here. A handy Q&A document is here:
I spoke briefly with Stuart Gosswien, Sr. Director, Federal Government Affairs at SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association), and he said the final plan will provide limited public access to approximately 40,000 acres for 10 months a year.
Here is the EIS summary paragraph:
I. Preferred Alternative: Alternative 6 was selected in the DEIS as the preferred alternative and slightly modified in the Final EIS: it is the optimal alternative considering operational and environmental impact factors together. Developed in response to public comments it was designed to preserve public access to important off-road recreation areas during periods when MEB training did not require use of those lands. The Preferred Alternative would allow for reopening to public recreation use approximately 40,000 acres of the acquisition area for 10 months a year.
Stuart noted that a bit of context is helpful. He said although the issuance of the EIS has been anticipated for months, Congress is still expected to enact the 2013 Defense Authorization Act that will include a provision requiring the Marines to undertake a study on alternative ways to share the land with the OHV community. The House has included the provision in its version of the bill, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein intends to sponsor the provision when the Senate takes up their version of the bill, thereby guaranteeing it will be in the final law. Although the Marines have put forth their EIS, Congress must ultimately enact legislation authorizing any transfer of land from the BLM to the Marines.
Meanwhile, efforts continue to protect Johnson Valley. The California Motorized Recreation Council (CMRC), a non-profit association comprised OHV organizations in California recently signed a contract with the Livingston Group, a large Washington, DC, lobbying firm. The move supports a re-enforced effort to protect motorized recreation in Johnson Valley.
While public comment is invited, at this stage of the public process, introduction of new material is not possible unless it can be linked to material already subject to public comment and analysis.
For those that submitted comments during the previous public comment periods, now is the time for you to review the Final EIS and determine if your comments have been addressed. If they have been addressed and you believe the discussion does not reflect your intent, you can submit rebuttal comments.
Also, if a topic was introduced by the agency that was not part of the original document open for public comment, you have the opportunity to challenge that topic.
In short, it is incumbent on you, the one that submitted comments, to review the document to ensure your comments have been addressed.
Public comment will be accepted until August 27.
Thanks in advance and, as always, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact BRC.
Public Lands Policy Director
208-237-1008 ext 102
PS: You can support efforts to protect OHV use at Johnson Valley by donating to the Save the Hammer's effort on the web: http://savethehammers.org