San Bernardino County Supervisor goes to bat for OHV users.

From the Office of
Brad Mitzelfelt
Vice-Chairman and Supervisor, First District
San Bernardino County
For information, contact
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Andy Silva (909) 387-4830
June 1, 2012
Supervisors Endorse Alternative to Marine Base Expansion that Preserves
Public Access, Allows Military Use of Johnson Valley
SAN BERNARDINO – San Bernardino County Supervisors Brad Mitzelfelt and Neil Derry today sent letters to
members of Congress and the Obama Administration endorsing a plan to retain full public access to the
Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle recreation area while allowing periodic military training in Johnson Valley
as desired by the neighboring Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms.
The Supervisors oppose the option recommended by the Department of Defense, which would be to remove
most of the lands in the recreation area from Bureau of Land Management holdings and add them within the
military base’s boundaries.
“Supervisor Derry and I are both Marine Corps veterans who served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert
Storm, and we fully support giving our Marines the most realistic, high quality training possible,” said
Supervisor Mitzelfelt. “We believe that we have a solution that will allow the Marines to conduct the necessary
training in Johnson Valley while allowing full public access during most of the year when exercises are not
being conducted. Activities in Johnson Valley, including OHV recreation, filming and mining, provide critical
economic support to surrounding communities.”
The Supervisors endorsed an alternative proposed by stakeholder groups that would keep Johnson Valley
under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, while the Marines would conduct their training
for roughly two months a year under a permit issued by the BLM. Currently, the preferred alternative in the
Draft Environmental Impact (DEIS) for the Land Acquisition/Airspace Establishment Study would have 108,530
acres of Johnson Valley brought under exclusive military control, while another 38,137 acres would remain
available to the public for the 10 months of the year when exercises are not occurring.
Supervisors Mitzelfelt and Derry support the base expanding to the eastern study area, where the impacts to
OHV and other recreation, filming and mining would be far less than by expanding into Johnson Valley, which
at 189,000 acres is the largest OHV area in the country and contributes an estimated $70 million annually to
the local economy. Supervisor Mitzelfelt also proposed previously that limited sections of a designated
wilderness area, which was the site of military maneuvers years ago and is adjacent to the eastern study area,
could be opened to military use in order to provide a larger area for realistic maneuvers.
“Eastward expansion is the least invasive and disruptive scenario,” said Supervisor Derry, whose district
includes the Morongo Basin. “The area to the west is a treasured recreational asset that draws visitors from the
entire Southwestern United States. Prohibiting civilian use would result in significant economic losses to the
Morongo Basin.”
The letter was sent to U.S. Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee
and to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. It was copied to House and Senate members on relevant
committees, and to other top Administration officials, including the Secretary of the Navy.
(Copy of letters and attachments below.)
Letter to U.S. Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon Page 1 – 4
Letter to Mr. Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense Page 5 – 7
Letter to Mr. James Peterson, Deputy State Director, Page 8 – 13
Office of Senator Diane Feinstein (dated September 24, 2008)
Comments from San Bernardino County regarding Page 14 – 16
Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

385 North Arrowhead Avenue • San Bernardino, CA 92415-0187
(909) 387-4431 Fax (909) 387-3223
Chief Executive Officer
Board of Supervisors
BRAD MITZELFELT, Vice Chairman……First District NEIL DERRY ….………..Third District
JANICE RUTHERFORD………………Second District GARY C. OVITT……….Fourth District
JOSIE GONZALES, Chair.……Fifth District
May 18, 2011
Mr. Chris Proudfoot, Project Manager
Department of the Navy
Proposed 29 Palms Land Acquisition/Airspace Establishment Project
Bldg. 1554, Box 788104
Twentynine Palms, CA 92278-8104
Dear Mr. Proudfoot,
The County appreciates the opportunity to review and comment on the Draft (EIS) for the proposed
establishment of a large-scale training range facility at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at
Twentynine Palms, (the “Combat Center”).
1. Morris Lode Mineral Resources
Alternatives 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 presented in the EIS identify potential impacts to mining, including the Morris
Lode deposit. The EIS notes that the Morris Lode Mine has an estimated 30 years worth of iron ore
reserves. This mine is on a patented claim, and the County has recently granted the operators of the
mine a California State Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMARA) permit. The mine is expected to
begin operations this year.
The County has identified the Morris Lode as having proven economic potential in the Johnson Valley.
Southern California cement plants depend on iron sources for required raw materials. Currently, there
are two iron mines operating in the Southern California / Western Nevada area: the Silver Lake and
Baxter mines. Both of these have finite lives, and the Morris Lode is the only identified future source of
iron for the eight cement plants operating in the southern California region. The next nearest producing
iron mine is near Cedar City, Utah.
Section 4.12 of the EIS identifies the potential loss of the Morris Lode as “less than significant” relative to
national or worldwide supplies of iron ore. However on a regional basis, the loss of the Morris Lode
would be a significant impact. The Southern California cement plants would be forced to transport iron
ore from out of state and the region would lose a valuable mineral resource. This transport of ore from
out of state would result in increased truck vehicle miles and potentially significant increases to air
pollutant and greenhouse (GHG) emissions. The EIS should be revised to address these impacts.
Although the EIS offers that decisions on whether to purchase a mining claim, or provide access to the
claim, would be made on a case-by-case basis, it does not identify the criteria that the Department of
Navy will use to make such decisions. The County requests that the EIS identify appropriate criteria for
allowing mining operations, including the value of regionally important mineral resources, and
consultations with the County and mine owners.
May 18, 2011
Page 2 of 3
2. Socioeconomic Impacts
Section of the EIS acknowledges that the acquisition of the Morris Lode Mine would have a
potential future indirect impact on the economy. However the EIS then states that there are too many
unknown factors involved in estimating the future value of this potential and that attempting to quantify
these impacts would be speculative.
Information regarding the economics of California’s cement industry is readily available. California is the
largest cement producing state in the U.S., accounting for between 10% and 15% of U.S. cement
production and cement industry employment. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory published a
cement industry study indicating that the cement industry employed about 2,000 workers and contributed
$850 million to California’s economy. Cement is California’s second most important mineral commodity,
after construction aggregates, and represents 25% of California’s total annual mineral production. About
80% of the cement produced in California is consumed within the State. Eight of the eleven plants
manufacturing cement are located in Southern California. Three are located in Victor Valley area, in
close proximity to the Morris Load Iron Mine, and these plants produce nearly five million tons of cement
annually, or about 40% of California’s annual production.
The loss of the Morris Lode Mine would result in potentially significant increases to the cost to
manufacture cement, increasing the cost of cement in California and reducing economic benefits
associated with the jobs and revenue that the mine would generated. These impacts are both local and
regional. The County requests that the EIS use available information regarding the California mining
industry and the Morris Lode Mine resources to quantify the economic impact that the loss of the mine
would have to the local and regional economy.
3. Cadiz Valley Water Project
Alternative 3 presented in the EIS would encompass the private landholding owned by Cadiz Inc. in the
northern portion of the east study area. This alternative would result in the potential loss of current
agricultural operations on the Cadiz property, as well as the potential loss of groundwater extraction,
recharge and storage opportunities from underneath the property. The EIS identifies the Cadiz Valley Dry
Year Supply Project as an aquifer storage, recovery, and dry-year supply project designed to provide
southern California with as much as 150,000 acre-feet (AF) per year, and identifies the Final
Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for the Cadiz Groundwater Storage and Dry-Year Supply Program
(MWD and BLM 2001) as the source for this information. However, the FEIR was never certified and the
Cadiz Valley Dry Year Supply Project was never approved. A modified the water conservation, recovery
and storage project is currently being proposed by Santa Margarita Water District’s (SMWD) for the Cadiz
property. (Reference Notice of Preparation of a Draft EIR Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery,
and Storage Project SCH # 2011031002.) Current entitlements for the Cadiz property include: GPA/90-
0017, CUP/90-0019, CUP/90-0031, CUP/90-0032 and CUP/95-0015 (as revised). Maximum entitlements
permitted under GPA/90-0017, CUP/90-0019, CUP/90-0031, CUP/90-0032 are limited to the groundwater
extraction assumptions evaluated under certified Final EIR SCH #89020203, and Mitigation Measure
WR6 which stipulates provisions for groundwater monitoring. The County requests the EIS correct and
update its discussion regarding potential groundwater operations on the Cadiz property.
May 18, 2011
Page 3 of 3
4. Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Impacts
The EIS finds that the action alternatives (depending on the alternative selected) would be inconsistent
with the Johnson Valley OHV Area Management Plan, and would result in an unavoidable adverse impact
relative to the loss of access to and the use of substantial portions of the Johnson Valley OHV Area. The
EIS does not attempt to identify mitigation measures that would replace the OHV areas lost to the project.
These impacts are both local and cumulative. The County requests that the EIS identify mitigation
measures that would replace OHV areas impacted by the project.
The County appreciates Department of the Navy’s attention to its concerns regarding the deficiencies of
the NOP. The County looks forward to working with the Department to achieve a thorough and adequate
Please do not hesitate to contact me at (909) 387-4431 should you have any questions.
Christine Kelly, Director
Land Use Services Department
cc: Gregory C. Devereaux
Gerry Newcombe
Andrew Silva
Judy Tatman
George Kenline
Joann Lombardo

About the Author

Jeff Knoll is the former Event Director for the King of the Hammers event. He has raced various classes in SCORE, BITD, MORE, and MDR. Following the California 200, Knoll travelled to Washington, DC to meet with BLM officials regarding the Special Recreation Permit policies of the BLM. Knoll serves on the BLM’s Desert Advisory Sub-Committee regarding Special Recreation Permits. Knoll also drafted language for Nevada’s Senate Bill 156 in 2011 regarding action sports safety.

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