Another bill sponsored by SEMA recently passed the House and was introduced and read into the record in the Senate. This bill, House Resolution (H.R.) 857, introduced by Rep. Paul Cook of California, has a title of the “California Off-Road Recreation and Conservation Act” and is designed to open more off-road/off-highway recreation areas in California. The bill is currently being reviewed by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
Multiple Recreation Areas Would Be Significantly Expanded
SEMA says the bill “offers a balanced approach to protecting, managing, and using the desert and forest area in San Bernardino County.” To wit: 300,00 acres in the California desert will be preserved for off-road recreational use and the Johnson Valley OHV Recreation Area will be expanded by over 11,000 acres and designated an OHV Recreation Area. It is also reported that the bill provides “additional protections to motorized recreation enthusiasts and ensures that OHV recreational areas cannot be closed administratively.” Additionally, the existing OHV areas in San Bernardino County – Dumont Dunes, Stoddard Valley, Rasor, El Mirage and Spangler Hills – will be designated permanent OHV recreation areas.
According to the bill’s summary, it will –
- Establish or designate wilderness areas, off-highway vehicle recreation areas, and a national scenic area
- Release specified wilderness study areas
- Adjust national park and preserve boundaries
- Specify land withdrawals and conveyances
It also states that the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Tribe will have specified federal land “taken into trust for it.” A visitor center may be operated by acquiring lands and interests outside the Joshua Tree National Park. Additionally, amendments will be made to the California Desert Protection Act of 1994 in regards to land belonging to California State Schools. Finally, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act will be amended to “designate specified segments of rivers and creeks and components of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.”