By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)–First District Supervisor Robert Lovingood on Friday urged the United States Marine Corps to rethink current plans that would shut down off-roading areas around Johnson Valley but added that he supports the expansion of the Marines’ Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms.
“We’re 100 percent committed to the Marine Corps’ mission,” Lovingood said. “But we support expansion alternatives that will serve the Marines’ training goals while preserving off-roading areas.”
The Department of the Navy announced plans Feb. 13 to expand the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center by 167,971 acres or about 262 square miles. The alternative selected by the Department of the Navy would close off 62 square miles in and around Johnson Valley, home of popular off-roading events, including the King of the Hammers. Off-roading is also a significant source of tourism dollars to the region.
“These are public lands that the public has a right to enjoy,” Lovingood said. “Too much of this great desert has already been shut down by government action.”
The Bureau of Land Management’s Desert Advisory Council is currently working on a compromise plan that would keep Johnson Valley open for off-road use while allowing the Marines to use parts of the area during maneuvers.
The Marines’ expansion is not final and needs congressional approval. Lovingood plans to speak with congressional representatives to encourage the military to adopt a compromise expansion plan that is allows for military expansion without limiting access to highly used off-roading lands.