Thursday, February 14, 2013

Navy expansion could halt King of the Hammers event

Less than a week after the King of the Hammers off-road race in Johnson Valley, the U.S. Navy on Wednesday issued its decision on a proposed expansion of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms that could put a brake the popular event as well as all off-roading in the high desert.The official record of decision, which Marine officials said will be available online today, endorses a plan that would give the Corps more than half the 188,000 acres of public off-roading area located about 20 miles north of Yucca Valley. Bumping up on the western boundary of the base, the land is now under the protection of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.  As outlined in a previous environmental impact report released in July, 108,530 acres of the valley would be permanently closed to off-roaders and used instead for training exercises involving thousands of Marines, along with tanks, helicopters and live ammunition.An additional 38,137 acres — including the valley’s world-famous rock-crawling trails, known as the Hammers — would become a “dual-use” area, available to off-roaders for 10 months a year. The Marines would use the area for training exercises for the other two months, but would not use live ammunition, the report said. The proposed expansion would also include 21,304 acres directly southeast of the existing Marine base.Marine officials have said they need the extra land for training exercises that are critical for the Corps’ post-Middle East role as a slimmed-down, rapid-response force...more

According to the 2012 DoD Base Structure Report, the DoD owns or controls over 28 million acres of land. Don't tell me they don't already have enough to practice on, with much to spare.

And any ranchers or rural landowners out there who have been supporting our interventions in the Middle East might want to reconsider that support.

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