Thanks to a 2014 Defense Bill, thousands of acres of land around the Marines Twentynine Palms Combat Center will now be shared with the Marines and off-roaders, but not without potential consequences.
The specifics of the multi-use land-sharing deal haven’t been hammered out, but while one local pig farmer says he is pleased with the deal, Major Gen. David Berger, commander of the enormous military base is not as thrilled. Berger maintains that without the additional training space, his Marines will not be able to “train effectively to fight at the brigade level.”
According to the Bureau of Land Management, the plan allows Marines to use the shared area “for two 30-day stretches a year for combat training” but when those 30-days will be, has not been determined.
The multi-use land agreement could have serious, if not deadly, consequences for off-roaders who might be confused about the specifics of the plan. One year ago there was a fatal training accident at that same base.
The land-sharing deal came about after a local group of off-roaders and outdoor enthusiasts directly petitioned the White House via the White House website. The off-roaders demanded that Congress refuse to let the Marine Corps annex additional acreage in Johnson Valley claiming:
"The Marines current expansion plan is unnecessary and fiscally irresponsible. Expanding the world's largest Marine base will cost taxpayers millions."
It wasn't a total win for the outdoor enthusiasts, but close.
In a similar agreement, the public is allowed to use the beach near Vandenberg Air Force Base except when the base is actively launching a missile or satellite.
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