Coalition grows to oppose Marine Corps expansion at Johnson Valley

Publish Date: 
Feb 7, 2013

TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. – The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) has joined with the Off-Road Business Association (ORBA) and a coalition of other land use advocacy organizations to keep the Johnson Valley OHV Recreation Area open to enthusiasts. 

The Marine Corps wants to expand its base at Twentynine Palms to include ownership of nearly 147,000 acres of adjacent land in Johnson Valley to conduct large-scale training exercises for one or two months a year. 

“OHV racing is one of SEMA’s fastest-growing enthusiast markets,” said SEMA president and CEO Chris Kersting.  “Many of our member companies provide the equipment necessary for teams to compete and enthusiasts to enjoy the sport. Given the strong interest our members have in preserving Johnson Valley, SEMA looks forward to working with the Marine Corps to find a solution that allows for both military training and recreational pursuits.”

Kersting attended the 2013 King of the Hammers, known as the toughest one-day off-road race in the world, to show SEMA’s support for a special-use permit compromise. Racers take advantage of the area’s unique geography to race Ultra 4 vehicles on a dry lake bed at speeds over 100 miles per hour and then rock-crawl through boulder fields.

Johnson Valley draws at least 200,000 visitors annually and generates nearly $200 million each year for the local economy as a result of the Kings of the Hammers event, scores of other organized enthusiast events, and individual OHV activities.

The OHV community has also petitioned the White House for support of the special-use permit approach. Thanks in part to SEMA’s enthusiast outreach organization, the SEMA Action Network (SAN) (, more than 25,000 signatures required for an official Administration response were received in just two weeks.  The community is now awaiting a White House response. 

Posted by Holly Wagner