July 27, 2012 – The Department of the Navy has published a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) to evaluate the potential environmental impacts associated with the proposed establishment of a large-scale training range facility at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, San Bernardino County, California. The remaining step in the planning process is to issue a Record of Decision (ROD) following a 30-day waiting period beginning today. Following publication of the ROD, the EIS will be submitted to the Department of Interior and then to Congress.
Under the preferred alternative in the FEIS, the Johnson Valley OHV Area (JVOA) would be substantially affected. The 189,470-acre JVOA is currently managed by BLM as the largest area in the U.S. open to cross-country OHV use. The preferred alternative would close approximately 56% of the JVOA for the Combat Center’s use. The remaining 44% of the JVOA would be open to OHV use 10 months per year in the Restricted Public Access Area (RPAA) (southern portion of JVOA) or year-round in areas outside of the RPAA (western portion of JVOA). This plan is essentially the same as the plan that was included in the Draft EIS, which was released in February 2011.
Comments on the FEIS must be received by August 27, 2012. Comments may be submitted by following the link below.
For further information, please contact Mr. Chris Proudfoot; Proposed 29 Palms Land Acquisition/Airspace Establishment Project, MAGTFTC, MCAGCC, Bldg. 1554, Box 788104 Twentynine Palms, CA 92278-8104; (760) 830-3764.
Work on the Congressional level is also ongoing to facilitate a more equitable solution between the Marine Corps and the OHV community. An amendment offered by U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) that would require a report on the proposal was incorporated into H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. H.R. 4310 is pending in the Senate Arms Services Committee. The amendment provides that the Secretary of the Navy may not use funds for the training range facility until the Secretary of the Navy has provided the Congressional defense committees a report on the Marine Corps’ efforts. The report would identify the impact on OHV use in the JVOA as well the potential to use the same land without closure, but under specific permits for use.