29 Palms Record of Decision Press Release‏

Betty Munson forwarded
this notice that the Marines have announced their Record of Decision (ROD) to
expand westward into our Johnson Valley public recreation lands. It's up to us
to fight this in Congress. Please stay tuned and ready to fight. Insisting that
our Congressmen stop this is what we need to do now. Please call, write, or
email yours now.   Bill

ROD is signed.  Off roads groups hired a lobbyist to
fight it in congress.

As expected, the Marines are moving forward.
 The ball is in Washington now.

The Marine's press release
is below "our" press release.

Steven Gardiner

Marines
Record of Decision Will Not Stop United Effort to Save
Johnson
Valley

On February 13th, 2013, the Secretary of the Navy
released their Record of
Decision (ROD) regarding the expansion of the Marine
Corps Air Ground Combat
Center at Twentynine Palms California. The ROD was
initially expected in
September but has been delayed more than 6 months due
to a united effort
from both the neighboring communities to 29 Palms and the
off road community
to stop the base expansion onto public lands.
 Normally the ROD is
considered the final step in the base expansion
process; however, due to
overwhelming opposition, the Marines still have many
obstacles to overcome
in their efforts to expand.

With the release of
the ROD, the Department of Defense must submit a bill
that requires Congress'
approval to withdraw the land from public use to be
given to the Department
of Defense. Congress' approval may prove difficult
for the Marines as
Congress passed a separate bill requiring the Marines
further investigate and
submit a report to Congress exploring the negative
financial impact the
expansion. The bill also requires the Marines further
investigate
alternatives that could allow training and public use to
co-exist. This
report is due to Congress by April 1st. As of February 13,
2013 this report
had not been submitted to Congress.

Additionally, a petition submitted to
whitehouse.gov opposing the
base
expansion has received more than 27,000 signatures meeting the
necessary
requirement for a formal response from the White House. The
response is
expected shortly after the petition's completion on February
14th.  With a
response pending from the executive branch and additional
requirements from
the legislative branch not yet addressed, The Marines
release of the ROD
seems premature as input from either branches could
significantly impact the
options for expansion.

Opponents to
 base expansion state that the Marines desired alternative
will
unnecessarily cost tax payers millions as well as negatively impact
the
economies of neighboring communities and small businesses that rely
on
Johnson Valley for their livelihood. "The biggest question we are asking
of
the Marines is why do they need this land? And they have yet to give
the
public a good answer." said Dave Cole, Founder of King of The Hammers,
a
popular BLM-approved off road permitted special event that attracts
more
than 30,000 spectators from around the world, and takes place in
Johnson
Valley each February.

The Marines have publicly stated they
are reducing their forces by 20,000
over the next 5 years but claim the
expansion is needed to do larger
training exercises. More than $120 Million
in tax payer dollars has been set
aside to buy out existing mining claims in
Johnson Valley. Additional money
will be spent on securing the new borders.
"This land has been open to the
public for so long, that there will be
families coming out to recreate that
will have no idea that they are
trespassing on a Marine Base." said Fred
Wiley of the Off Road Business
Association. Many estimate it could be 5
years before the new perimeters are
secured for training purposes.

An alternative has been proposed that
could meet the Marines training
requirements without negative financial
impact to tax payers or permanently
closing public lands. The California
Motorized Recreational Council (CMRC)
has proposed the Marines look at
Alternative 4 of the 6 alternatives
currently proposed by the Marines. This
alternative has the Marines training
from west to east and would keep live
fire training off of public lands. If
the Marines chose this alternative and
worked with Bureau of Land Management
(BLM) to obtain permits to train, the
land could be co-used.

"While we are disappointed that the Marines chose
to release their Record of
Decision prior to submitting their report to
Congress, we are confident that
this Record of Decision will not be the final
course of action."  Said Jeff
Knoll, ORBA member and CMRC
representative, he continued by saying, "The
fight to Save Johnson Valley is
far from over."

For more information, please visit:  <http://www.savethehammers.org/>
www.savethehammers.org

Marine's Press
Release:

OCEANSIDE, Calif. - The Marine Corps has cleared a final
hurdle in its plan
to expand the premier desert warfare training center at
Twentynine Palms,
Calif., a senior officer said.

The "record
of decision" to expand the Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center
was approved
by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, said Maj. Gen. Melvin G. Spiese,
deputy
commander of I Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

"Now
it's a matter of working the details (and) key consultations," Spiese
said.
The next step falls to Congress, which must approve the expansion
before the
process of transferring or purchasing land parcels, many of which
are in
federal hands, can begin.

An official announcement on the land
acquisition was expected Wednesday,
said Capt. Kendra Motz, a Marine Corps
spokeswoman at the Pentagon.

The Marine Corps had expected a
final decision to be issued in April 2012
after it received public comment on
its 2011 draft environmental impact
statement, which provided details of its
plan to expand the existing combat
center, which covers about 600,000 acres,
or 295 square miles. But the
original proposal drew strong opposition and
more than 20,000 public
comments, primarily from recreationalists and
off-roaders who frequent the
neighboring 189,000-acre Johnson Valley, a
popular off-road vehicle spot for
rock-crawling events, including the "King
of the Hammers" competition held
Feb. 8.

The Marine Corps then came up
with a "preferred alternative" that would take
166,000 acres west and
southeast of the combat center, a compromise that
would close off about
40,000 acres of Johnson Valley to the public for about
two months a year to
support twice-annual brigade-level exercises starting
in 2015. The combat
center would issue permits for public access to the land
the rest of the
year.

An online petition asking the White House to intervene and
stop the
expansion into Johnson Valley had collected 27,735 signatures as of
Tuesday.

Marine Corps officials say the land expansion is needed
to provide enough
room to train an expeditionary brigade-size force of 15,000
Marines, who
would encounter more challenging training as they fight and move
against
targets across more than 50 miles of terrain. The MEB's three
reinforced
battalions would be supported with helicopters, fixed-wing
aircraft, tanks,
armored vehicles, artillery, rockets and logistical support
during the
training, which would culminate in a final three-day combined-arms
live-fire
exercise.