Amid the dust, euphoria and apocalyptic overtones of last year's King of the Hammers race, there was a fight going on to save the Johnson OHV (Off-Highway Vehicle) area for public use. Part of the area's 188,000 acres borders the 29 Palms Marine Base, and the Marines wanted to claim 160,000 of them for military use. If that happened, it would have robbed the public of almost all of the Johnson OHV area and, in claiming the Hammers collection of rock formations, shut down the race.

The work of numerous land-access groups went into finding a compromise, and an agreement has been struck in the US Congress that cedes 88,130 acres to the Marines permanently and leaves 99,870 acres for public access. Of those 99,870, twice a year for 30 days each the Marines will lay claim to 56,000 of them for military exercises. The caveat, though, is that the public land will be overseen by the Bureau of Land Management, so the Marines can't use dud-producing ordnance or ammunition larger than .50 caliber there.

And since the roughly 100,000 acres left to the recreational set includes features like the Hammers, Spooners, Aftershock, Soggy Dry Lake, Emerson Dry Lake and most of the Fry Mountains, the race will go on and another awesome time will be had by all. We expect we'll be out there to do it again as well...


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 15 Comments
      AngeloD
      • 1 Year Ago
      The Federal Government owns approx. 50% of the land in the western States. Nevada 84.5% Alaska 69.1% Utah 57.5% Oregon 53.1% Idaho 50.2% Arizona 48.1% California 45.3% Wyoming 42.3% New Mexico 41.8% Colorado 36.6% Surely they could find another area to accommodate training for the Marine Corps.
      jebibudala
      • 1 Year Ago
      It's hammer time?
      djvinnybricks
      • 1 Year Ago
      Good. The environmentalists have been trying to shut down Ocotillo Wells SVRA, and if anything the military needs to give back some of the land it hogs here in Southern California, its an absolute waste.
        lasertekk
        • 1 Year Ago
        @djvinnybricks
        Do you want to keep something in good shape so future generations can enjoy it? Or would you rather take the Neanderthal approach and just strip mine the planet now? My aim and like-minded people's is the former.
          lasertekk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @lasertekk
          That's acceptable. My automotive activities take place at Buttonwillow and Willow Springs. Perhaps you should stop playing in the dirt and join the adults.
          AngeloD
          • 1 Year Ago
          @lasertekk
          @lasertekk: Off Road Vehicle (ORV) usage on Federal lands is almost universally limited to carefully monitored, established trails and has zero significant impact on the land. Your analogy to strip mining indicates a deep level of ignorance about the subject. Of course, the dishonest, extremist, enviro-religion fundies won't be happy until ORV usage on public lands is banned entirely. "...it's for the children..."
          rcavaretti
          • 1 Year Ago
          @lasertekk
          ewhh...you're one of those dirt redneck types.
          AngeloD
          • 1 Year Ago
          @lasertekk
          @lasertekk: LOL, It's not your thing, therefore nobody needs to be able to enjoy it. Grow up an get a clue, not everyone has the same tastes in motor sports.
        Echelon Bob
        • 1 Year Ago
        @djvinnybricks
        I agree with you dj. I'm always amazed at the amazing locations the military continues to hog, especially down here in San Diego. Beautiful, seaside resort areas like Coronado. And of course, Oceanside is not exactly a small strip of prime SoCal beachfront property. (On the other hand, I feel sorry for the East Coast Marines who have to train in the sweaty Carolinas.) Up north they have prime locations like in Monterey. At least in the Bay Area they started making available to the public some of the areas like the Presidio.
          Wisdom Seeker
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Echelon Bob
          When did the military implement eminent domain on Oceanside?
      lasertekk
      • 1 Year Ago
      Simple. Which ever activity (public or military use) that takes a smaller toll on the land should have access to it.
        Rick C.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @lasertekk
        Agreed. It's like friends how want to borrow my tools. The ones who have shown some responsibility in returning them in good shape get to borrow and use them. The others don't get to touch them or use them.
      audisp0rta4
      • 1 Year Ago
      Woohoo!!
      Stuka87
      • 1 Year Ago
      This was awesome news to hear! 29 Palms is already very large, so it's good that they were able to work this deal out.
      Dan O'Brien
      • 1 Year Ago
      There was no deal...... All that is left of 188,000 acres is in reality 47,000..... giving up 141,000 acres is not a good deal. That hammers are saved this year... but let us all be honest most of the Hammers is in a joint use area. That area is subject to permanent closure if one .223 round is misplaced or a single inadvertent artillery round goes off in the area..... 100,000 acres will be shut off to civilians quicker than you can blink an eye. This is a sham and within a two years the joint use area will be closed too.
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