Placer County – Rubicon Grant

CA State parks has awarded Placer County a grant worth almost $300,000!

Link to a chart of awarded values, Placer County is number 67.

Starting October 15, 2013, Placer County has one year to spend the money and document matching funds through volunteer hours for labor and equipment. The grant funds: signage, rolling dips, filling holes, water bars, material and repairing the single lane of asphalt from the residential area to the staging area.

The wording of grant application can be found at the link below. The actual grant awarded changed mostly in the amount not the scope.

Link to Placer County grant application.

Thirty five different spots along the trail from the boundary with the Basin to the turn at Forest Road 03 have been identified as needing attention. Most are either creating a rolling dips or reestablishing the natural drainage from the trail.

The spots were identified, GPSed, photographed and sent to Placer County.  A small group provided transportation while Placer toured the sites to take detailed notes and discuss options and fixes. Once Placer County documents the proposed fixes, they will get sent to the TNF to make sure the FS is good with each fix. This might require a trail visit.

Once all the fixes are decided and approved, the details of how to make each one happen will be documented.  Contractors will need to submit bids for the ‘heavy lifting’, materials and transportation costs. This could take until July! At this point, the volunteer leadership will need to step in and work with Placer County to organize the volunteer labor portion of this plan.

The grant is HEAVY with matching funds from volunteers, so we will all need to document any and all maintenance efforts within Placer County.

This will probably be a September project with finishing touches leaking in to October.  You might want to keep your calendar clear.

14N39 – Meeting with the ENF 12-12-13

Yesterday, I drove over to the Pacific Ranger District headquarters of the ENF. I met with Richard Thornburg, Debbie Gaynor and Charis Parker. We met for about an hour and discussed where we were with 14N39 and what was in front of us in the way of data collection, planning and implementation of the fixes.

The overall plan is that over the next three years, 1/3 of the trails will be reopened each year.  The work will be done in two phases.  The first phase will be anything and everything that can be done as ‘maintenance’; stuff that does not require extensive paperwork and expensive studies.  Phase two will be everything that will require NEPA, EIS and/or EAs. The last issue on 14N39, will require a reroute and thus NEPA and more and is not even scheduled for scoping until 2015.

The ENF has hired a new hydrologist that will start in January.  There will also be a FS expert brought in to help determine and approve any fixes to the ‘meadow issues’ throughout the ENF.

The ENF is scheduled to release an update regarding the ‘meadow’ issues across the whole forest in late January.

So, moving forward, the ENF claims that 14N39-1 and maybe -5 and -7 should be simple maintenance issues that once visited (again) will be fast tracked to completion. The ENF claims that not enough data was collected during the Aug 15 trail visit.  They say that the new hydrologist and a road engineer need to visit each cite before they can sign off on the ‘fix’.

The ENF claims that this will be a quick process, like visit the trail on Wednesday and 9 or 10 days later, the volunteers will be on the trail working with the FS to fix the issues.  The funding is already in place (for maintenance) and any equipment and material needed is easy enough to get in a week. With enough volunteers, I think the first three issues can be fixed in one weekend.

We will keep an eye on the trail this spring and once it is safe to travel, I will schedule a tour of 14N39 in order to get those fixes in place as soon as possible.

Water Bar Markers

Technically, they are rolling dips not water bars but for years we’ve referred to them as water bars (WBs). They were installed in 2001 and every year we do maintenance on these WBs, some getting more attention than others.  In order to properly document our work or communicate which WB needs work, we needed to number them.  They were numbered at one point but with weather and some vandalism, there were more unmarked than marked.

Last week, John Briggs of the North Tahoe Trails Dusters, placed new markers on almost every WB. The Rubicon Trail Foundation provided the materials and John welded them up.

Markers 003

Unfortunately, he didn’t have a camera with him when he was installing them.  So, I’ll get pictures next spring of one or two of these actually placed, after the snow melts.


For some time, there has been a fight going on over 42 trails within the Eldorado National Forest (ENF). Right now, 24 of those trails have been opened.  The remaining 18 trails need some kind of fix, from simply putting down gravel to rerouting a ½ mile of trail.

One of these trails is the Richardson Lake Trail, 14N39. The Richardson Lake Trail turns south off the Rubicon Trail just west of Miller Lake.  It runs past the Sierra Club’s Ludlow Hut on the way to the summit of Sourdough Peak.

The trail does not offer much challenge to OHV users but provides an awesome view from the top.  At the top, looking west, you look down on Desolation Wilderness, Loon Lake and the Rubicon Trail.  The summit offers some of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen.

Although the ENF has been slow to work with the users to form and implement a plan to repair the four ‘meadow’ issues on the trail, they have closed the trail.  The following signs now grace the Richardson Lake Trail just south of Miller Creek.

Signs & post

I am currently trying to work with the ENF to get a plan developed this winter, so we can hit the trail early next spring to repair and re-open the trail. Getting access to Richardson Lake should be straight forward. Use of the trail for the next mile or so is also doable. But user access to the summit might require a reroute and lots of NEPA, EIS and other studies.

Stay tuned.


A new blog…

The purpose of this blog is to keep the users and supporters of the world famous Rubicon Trail informed about what’s going on regarding the Tahoe end of the trail.  I don’t mean to minimalize the Georgetown end of the trail but it gets plenty of press and the Tahoe side is frequently treated like the red headed step child or the other trail.

This blog will serve as a reference for side trails, government actions, general knowledge, maintenance efforts and current conditions.

Please explore the links and articles.  Feedback and questions are encouraged.  You can reach me at

Stay tuned and stay informed,


Doug Barr – “Turn around, don’t go around”