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Petition to Preserve Johnson Valley OHV through De-Designation of a PORTION of Sheephole Wilderness Area and Cleghorn Valley Wilderness area.
We, the undersigned petitioners by affixing our signatures, do Urge and Encourage the Command Staff at the 29 Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center located at Twentynine Palms in California, to pursue an Alternate Course of action to any westward expansion into the Johnson Valley OHV in their quest to enlarge the 29 Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center located at Twentynine Palms in California.
Instead, we ask that an Easterly expansion that includes a portion of the Sheephole Wilderness Area and Cleghorn Valley Wilderness area be the primary areas of interest as this direction best meets the needs of the Military, The vast array of Johnson Valley OHV Stakeholders, and the persons in the Surrounding Communities.
Eastward expansion will take into account and meet the needs of the Military by lack of conflicting air space with Commercial Aircraft using the Los Angeles Basin Flight Path. Further, it will retain the intact nature of the Johnson Valley OHV which serves the needs of thousands of Stakeholders including but not limited to 4x4 Enthusiasts, Motorcycle and Quad Enthusiasts, Rock hounds, The Movie Industry, Amateur Rocketeers, and Various Sanctioning Bodies for Offroad Racing. The Surrounding Communities will continue to enjoy the boost to their local economies by the attraction to, and the use of, the Johnson Valley OHV by the Stakeholders.
It is further encouraged that particular attention be paid to the plan laid out by San Bernardino County First District Supervisor, Brad Mitzelfelt in which he questions the inclusion of parts of these Wilderness Areas due to their previous usage as military training grounds in his letter to Deputy State Director, James Peterson, and the fact they were never included in any formal Wilderness Study plans.
Below is the excerpt from this letter-
I also offer the following proposal for the consideration by the Senator as a means of facilitating the Marines Corps expansion. It would serve multiple purposes. First, it would facilitate the expansion toward an area with little conflict with the desert residents. Second, it would save the BLM’s largest public OHV area for continued use, thus not displacing it to areas that should not be used and preventing trespass. Third, if adjusted to a realistic extent, it could potentially provide a largely suitable training area, plus an energy production area, remote from both sensitive resources and population, plus reduce potential conflict with public recreational use of the public lands. The proposal described below, at its maximum extent, would remove less than 170,000 acres from wilderness, and as I have indicated elsewhere, would not sacrifice any land resources that truly have wilderness values.
1. Adjust and de-designate portions of the Sheephole Mountains (Area #21) in an (A) configuration, eliminate the northern portion, north of the township like between 2 North and 3 North. In a (B) configuration the eastern two-thirds could be removed, leaving in the Sheephole Mountains as wilderness. A line drawn southeasterly from the corner of T2N R12E, T2N R13E, T3N R12E and T3N R13E, to State Highway 62 at its northern point corner would accommodate both the Marine Corps expansion and renewable energy development siting.
Except for the mountainous area to the southwest side, the area likely should never have been included in the National Wilderness System. While technically roadless, it was a tank training area during World War II (near the Iron Mountain Divisional Camp), and again, I believe, during Operation Desert Strike in 1964. The impacts from past activity had rendered the area “not suitable” in the published Wilderness Reports, but for reasons known only to the CDPA authors, it was included as Wilderness.
2. De-designate the Cadiz Dunes (Area #24). This small dune system, if removed from wilderness, in lieu of some of the new areas to be included, there would be a balancing, which would also facilitate the USMC expansion to the east, and create a “whole” area for their training activity.
This area, like the eastern part of the Sheephole Wilderness, was never recommended suitable by BLM’s inventory, and more importantly, was not deemed of sufficient value or naturalness to be recommended over other dune systems in the region such as Kelso. In fact, when wilderness inventory was done, it was not deemed to have wilderness character and thus was not even a Wilderness Study Area (WSA), and thus was not even addressed as part of the form and published Wilderness Report. It too, was part of the general military training in WWII and probably again in the 1960’s. I cannot speculate why it was even included in the 1994 CDPA, and its de-designation now, to provide an appropriate eastern boundary for the Marine Corps training, seems appropriately in the National interest.
(see link labeled "San Bernardino County Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelts letter to Dianne Feinstien office" to the right for full letter)
We feel this is the best course of action in that it solidly meets the needs of all concerned.
Should this proposal be found acceptable to the Marine Corps, then this petition in its entirety will be sent to each Congressman and Senator who's constituency is represented.
Partnership for Johnson Valley
Friends of Johnson Valley
California Off-Road Vehicle Association
“Dedicated to protecting our
lands for the people, not from
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Public Comment form:
San Bernardino County Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelts letter to Dianne Feinstien Office:
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