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Cook introduces bill to designate Johnson Valley as National OHV area

Rep. Paul Cook
Rep. Paul CookCourtesy of Rep. Paul Cook

Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) introduced H.R. 4371 yesterday to designate the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area as the first National Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area. Last year off-road enthusiasts almost lost access to the area due to the threat of expansion of the U.S. Marine Corps base in Twenty-Nine Palms, Calif.

Off-roaders lobbied Cook and other representatives for help in fighting the expansion that would have gobbled up 100,000 acres of Johnson Valley. Ultimately a deal was negotiated with the USMC to designate Johnson Valley for off-highway vehicle use. This area includes the Hammers, both the front and back side, and other topographical features such as Spooners, Aftershock, Sunbonnet, the Riffle Monument, and the Cal200 Memorial (The Rockpile). The majority of the Fry Mountains and full access to Soggy Dry Lake Bed are also guaranteed for off-highway vehicle use, as well as access to Emerson Dry Lake Bed.

Cook introduced H.R. 4371 to recognize this effort and highlight Johnson Valley’s significance by making it the nation’s first national off-highway vehicle recreation area. In a press release issued today, Cook states, “This might seem like a small change, but it’s important. It will show that Johnson Valley is of national significance, raising its profile for economic purposes and within the federal government, which owns the land.”

The campaign saved the famed “King of the Hammers” race, which draws over 30,000 people to Johnson Valley. The Bureau of Land Management estimates that Johnson Valley currently generates more than $71 million annually for local economies, including both the Victor Valley and the Morongo Valley.

Cook said, “I’m proud to have been a part of the national campaign to save Johnson Valley last year. Johnson Valley is a national treasure and this bill formally recognizes it as such.”