The Marine Corps is studying it's needs to meet the Marine Corps Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) sustained, combined arms, live-fire and maneuver training requirements. Key to that proposal is the expansion of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC), Twentynine Palms, CA. into Johnson Valley OHV Area.
The scoping period is designed to solicit input from stakeholders, the affected public and agencies regarding issues or interests that should be studied or the reasonable alternatives that should be considered for the study moving forward.
At this time the Marine Corps is studying five potential base expansion alternatives and a No Action Alternative. These study alternatives include:
Alternatives 1 and 4 - Add 188,000 acres West of the base and 22,000 acres South of the base. These alternatives effectively include expansion in to all of the Johnson Valley OHV Area. Training movements and live-fire exercises differ between Alternative 1 and 4.
Alternative 2 - Add 122,000 acres West of the base and 22,000 acres South of the base. This alternative includes most of the Johnson Valley OHV Area.
Alternative 3 - Add 228,000 acres East of the base and 22,000 acres South of the base. This alternative does not include expansion into Johnson Valley.
Alternative 5 - Add 188,000 acres West of the base only (Johnson Valley).
No Action Alternative - Marine Corps will seek no additional lands, MEB exercises would occur on existing base.
On Nov 17, 2008, a stakeholders meeting was held to outline issues individuals and groups to use when submitting comments.
December 15, 2008 - end of comment period on the "segregation/withdrawal" action by the BLM.
This is a formality where the BLM will submit a recommendation to Congress that the proposed study area be "withdrawn" from consideration of other uses of public lands for the duration of the study period. Existing activities will continue during the study period. New activities will not be considered until the completion of the study and the lands are returned to the public lands inventory.
The initial withdrawal action is for a period of two years. That period can be extend (in two year increments) for the duration of the time required to complete the study.
January 31, 2009 - end of public comment period for the scoping phase of the EIS development. An extract of the Federal Register notice is below.
[Federal Register: October 30, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 211)]
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE - Department of the Navy
Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Acquisition of Lands and Establishment of Airspace Contiguous to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, CA
AGENCY: Department of the Navy, DoD.
SUMMARY: Pursuant to section (102)(2)(c) of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4332(2)(c)), as implemented by the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), the Department of the Navy announces its intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to study alternatives for meeting Marine Corps Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) sustained, combined arms, live-fire and maneuver training requirements. The proposed action is to request the withdrawal of federal public lands, acquire state and privately owned lands, and to seek the establishment of Special Use Airspace with the effect of expanding the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC), Twentynine Palms, California. The Department of the Navy will prepare the EIS in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management and Federal Aviation Administration.
DATES: All written, oral, or telephonic comments regarding the scope of issues that the Department of the Navy should consider during EIS preparation must be received before January 31, 2009.
The complete Federal Register Notice can be viewed at: http://www.muirnet.net/?p=1340
Additional information is available from the USMC website: http://www.29palms.usmc.mil/las/default.asp