Rep. Cook’s Johnson Valley Plan Passes U.S. House
WASHINGTON • Paul Cook scored another victory Friday in his quest to save a popular off-roading area from a military takeover.
Cook, R-Yucca Valley, announced in a news release that his plan to create the Johnson Valley National Off-Highway Vehicle Area passed the U.S. House of Representatives as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.
The NDAA passed the House by a vote of 315-107 and will now move to the Senate. If passed by the Senate, the bill will reach the president’s desk for approval.
“Johnson Valley is essential to the off-highway recreational vehicle community,” Cook said in the release. “The end goal is to ensure that the NDAA still has this Johnson Valley language in it when it reaches the president’s desk later this year. A lot can happen as the NDAA moves through the Senate, so it’s essential for supporters of my proposal to let senators know how important it is to protect Johnson Valley for recreational use.”
Third District Supervisor James Ramos, who represents Barstow, similarly encouraged supporters of the proposal and gave his congratulations to Cook.
“This bill offers a balanced, well-thought out approach,” Ramos said in a prepared statement, “that both protects OHV use in the Johnson Valley and also allows for important military operations to take place in this area.”
The Johnson Valley OHV area is a vast expanse of desert east of Lucerne Valley. The site is popular with off-road vehicle enthusiasts and hosts large off-road racing events throughout the year.
The U.S. Marine Corps has its sights set on a westward expansion of its base in Twentynine Palms to establish a vast training area. The plan would permanently close a large portion of the OHV area and leave a small section for joint use by the Marines and the public.
Cook’s proposal would designate the Johnson Valley OHV area as a national recreation area, thereby severely limiting the Marines’ proposed expansion. Marine Corps activities would be permitted twice annually and could not include any explosives that could be left behind without detonating.
Cook is a former Marine who was awarded a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.