Suggestions sent to FOTR…

So, FOTR is holding it’s annual meeting on Saturday, May 3rd in Placerville at the DOT office. I think it starts at 9am.  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend.  Bills to pay, so I have to go to work. I’d like to pass along some ideas that I hope will be discussed at the meeting.


FOTR Meetings

Let’s start right there, meetings. With only one meeting a year, odds are that some people will not be able to attend. With only one meeting, trying to follow up on action items or to plan out an entire year is difficult.

I’d like to suggest a non-symmetrical quarterly system.

Projects and Weekends: Hold a winter meeting in January to plan what projects FOTR will tackle and what weekends will be chosen for the work parties. Before the next meeting, an outline of each project should be drafted.

Leadership: The spring meeting would be held in March and would be for the details: we have the projects, we have the dates, we have an outline for each project. Who wants to lead a project, who wants to cook, who wants to do logistics, who wants to do whatever? Maybe discuss how each project needs to be tackled. The lead roles should be filled prior to the next meeting.

Worker Bees: The summer meeting in May would be presenting the completed RICS forms (or equivalent) with the IC’s, crew leaders and major logistics already in place. At this meeting we’d be looking for shovelers, check in people, trailers, etc. We’d be finalizing timelines, camping locations and what’s for dinner.

Review: The fall meeting held in September would be a review of what has been done and possible what’s left before the snow flies. The list of things to do would need to be reviewed/updated prior to the January meeting.

By splitting the one annual meeting in to four meetings, more details can be documented for each phase. More people, over the course of the year, will be able to attend and feel like they are part of the process thus increasing morale and buy-in from the users.


Membership Drive / Information Exchanges

So, how to get more people involved and informed…

My first suggestion is to post ‘Press Releases’ in as many OHV forums as possible.

The basic steps would be to slowly build an email list of people, and which forum they represent, who are willing to post any and all RTF/FOTR Press Releases on to a single forum. The individual posting the Press Release would NOT be responsible for answering any questions posted regarding the Press Release.

There would be a disclaimer on each Press Release stating that FOTR does not monitor this forum and although discussion is encouraged, any communication with FOTR should be done by emailing FOTR directly.

By sending one email, a single Press Release could easily be posted on a dozen forums. Eventually, that number could be dozens of forums. This effort would not only inform users but would also recruit volunteers.

A similar technique could be used to reach every Cal4 club in the state. Eventually other states could be included. Maybe monthly, a Press Release could be sent electronically to each club to be read at the clubs monthly meeting. This might take a little more effort to write as it would need to document what is going on with FOTR more than a month out. (Note: not every club currently has an email address on file with Cal4)

Possible wording for emails to representatives and on the Press Releases:


“You have received this email because you have volunteered to pass on information about the Rubicon Trail and Friends of the Rubicon. If you no longer wish to assist with maintaining the Rubicon Trail, please contact FOTR and you will be removed from this emailing list.”


“This forum is not being monitored by FOTR representatives, although discussion is encouraged and FOTR members might post up and answer questions and offer opinions, any comments or questions aimed directly at FOTR should be emailed directly to FOTR.”


A new position within FOTR could be created within FOTR, call it the ‘Public Relations’ person but limit the duties to dealing with emails, fliers and letters.

This person would work directly with the Trail Boss in creating Press Releases, maintaining the email lists for forums and for OHV clubs and for actually sending out the Press Releases.

The last thought in this category is to send out a questionnaire to all current FOTR volunteers, past volunteers and possible future volunteers in order to find out why volunteerism and leadership is down. Possible questions have already been forwarded to RTF. This should be sent out after an email list for forums and clubs has been developed.


Rebuild/Redirect the FOTR Leads list

This has been mentioned before but I don’t believe or never heard that it had been completed.

Currently, the Leads list falls flat when topics are brought up for discussion. If you’re going to be on the Leads list, you should make the time to get involved with the issues brought up on the email list.

I’d suggest asking each person to send a one page summary of why they want/should be on the Leads list. I don’t know how many people are currently on the Leads list but it shouldn’t be more than ten percent of the General list.

Once the new list is compiled and working, the Trail Boss should monitor who is failing to partake in the conversations. If you’re not taking part in the conversation, you get a warning; if you don’t step up and become part of the conversation; you’re off the list.

I’d like to see this change in order to drive more people to take part in discussing the current topics/issues facing the Rubicon Trail.


Organization Chart

There is an FOTR organizational chart and responsibilities for each position floating around from 2010. I believe it was a Bebe creation. Let’s fill it in.

Looking at the list, the only name I could fill in right now is that of Jerry Reffner as Trail Boss.

I currently hold the position of liaison with the TNF. John Briggs is the liaison with Placer County. Kade Hendricks is the current liaison with the LTBMU. Not major roles but they would fall in under Planning if the chart were expanded in detail. I know of no other roles current filled.

The suggestion above about clubs and forums could be driven by a Comms Chief. Below I suggest a Plans or Ops Chief to maintain a current “To Do List”. An RTF director should be the Finance Chief as RTF funds most of FOTR’s efforts.

I think in order to fill these positions we need to detail out the role and responsibilities of each and every position including the role of Trail Boss.


To Do List(s)

Create a single list of things to do for the entire trail. Then, prioritize or choose items from the list for 2014. GPS each issue. This summer, I will be getting GPS numbers for each item on the Tahoe Side to do list.

Currently, we have FOUR different “To Do Lists” floating around:

  1. Geographically east to west, by Doug
  2. A categorized but not prioritized list, by Rusty
  3. The Tahoe side priorities, by Tahoe side users
  4. Placer County’s priorities from ’13 FOTR meeting, by Kansas

This duty should fall to a Planning or Operations Chief. I do not favor a single person deciding what FOTR should work on. I’d like to see a committee working under Plans/Ops of six to eight people sit down and keep an eye on what issues face the trail and which are priorities.

This committee should maintain a list of 4-5 items that need to be done on the trail. This list should be posted on the FOTR website.



  • Develop an FOTR mission statement
  • Define the objectives of FOTR
  • Maintain the FOTR website with current information
  • Reach out to motorcycle, quad and side-by-side users
  • Education of volunteers: Offer training for leading a crew or a project; writing letters, emails, grants; filling RICS positions; basic organizational skills

Just thinking out loud…




Working with the Eldorado National Forest?

As the only pro-OHV appellant from the east side of the Sierras, I have taken a personal interest in getting the Richardson Lake Trail, 14N39, reopened. One of my clubs, The North Tahoe Trail Dusters, often would organize a mid-week after work run to the top of Sourdough Peak for a BBQ and to watch the sunset. We’d then wheel down in the dark.

Trying to work ‘with’ the Eldorado National Forest (ENF) to get this trail reopened has been a challenge. My fallback line to them has been “Partnership Not Pushback” but it seems I get more pushback than partnership.

Early on, before the Record of Decision (ROD), I had organized a tour of 14N39. Scheduled to be there were all the right people from the ENF and the users to drive them. The day before the tour the head ENF ranger, Lawrence Crabtree, pulled the hydrologist to another project. We went anyway and documented the ‘meadow’ issues and how each could be fixed.

The ENF later changed the rules and claimed that no planning could be done on any fixes until the forest hydrologist could visit the trail and get eyes on the issue. They couldn’t read our notes and draft something; they couldn’t look at our photographs and draft something; they couldn’t work from the first hydrologist’s notes and draft something.

Read as a “How can we, the ENF, delay the reopening of this trail?”

But the hydrologist was not available later on to make it to the trail. Then the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit tried to help by sending their hydrologist to look at the trail. But an early snow flurry covered the trail the day before the scheduled tour. Let’s not discuss the fact that it didn’t snow again for months.

Read as a “How can we, the ENF, delay the reopening of this trail?”

So the winter went by with the ENF not willing to talk about possible fixes, not willing to talk about possible reroutes, not willing to talk about possible temporary fixes to the last meadow, not willing to talk about any possible maintenance, basically not willing to do anything that move this project forward. Pushback not partnership.

Read as a “How can we, the ENF, delay the reopening of this trail?”

Over the winter, I’m thinking about possible fixes to both the minor water issues and the last meadow reroute. I email a few questions to the ENF and don’t hear back. I finally email the boss of my ENF contact and I hear back from my contact. They snapped back about other things going on and being short staffed, etc. Pushback not partnership. They never did answered my questions.

Read as a “How can we, the ENF, delay the reopening of this trail?”

Spring arrives. I’ve already drafted a plan for the inevitable tour with the ENF and this time the hydrologist. Its three pages long: goals, objectives, list of possible attendees, communications plan, medical plan, timeline, etc. So, I contact the ENF to lay the groundwork for this tour that is still a month away due to snow.

I receive an email basically telling me that the ENF will send a group to tour the trail and then put out a plan of what the fixes will be. A second tour could be scheduled if needed for the appellants. Then there would be a comment period.

Read as a “How can we, the ENF, delay the reopening of this trail?”

There were so many ‘issues’ in this one email from the ENF that I contacted them and later drove over the hill to meet with them in person.

At the end of the meeting, I had still not got my way but had made a little ground. The ENF would still send out a team without users or appellants and would schedule a second tour with appellants, within a week, prior to drafting and publishing a plan. This would allow input from individuals outside the FS to comment prior to the ENF coming to a decision on how to fix any issues.

There are still many issues to ‘discuss’ with the ENF. The primary one being to start working on possible ways to temporarily ‘fix’ the last meadow issues to allow users to drive to the summit while the years long reroute gets completed.

Don’t worry, I’m still pushing. I’m aiming for a partnership but I’ll take anything as long as I can keep things moving forward.


Rubicon reopens, again.

El Dorado County has done its measurements on the trail and has declared that the Rubicon is open, again.

The County has very ridged rules it must follow regarding the Rubicon.  They measure regularly for water flow, depth and sedimentation.

Although this spring ahs seen a number of closures and reopenings, this is a much better system than in decades past.

If only other trails could be managed with science rather than guess work.

Reno FOTR Meeting

On Saturday the 12th, there was a Reno area FOTR meeting held at the Blind Onion pizza parlor on South Virginia. It wasn’t a huge turn out but we had a good conversation about the Rubicon Trail.

John Briggs updated the group about the Placer County grant of $294,000 to be spent on the Tahoe side this summer. The contracts need to go out to bid and once the contractors have done the ‘heavy equipment work’ the county is expecting the volunteers to finish off the water bars, drains and rolling dips. Plan for Sept/Oct.

I talked about “To Do List” for the Tahoe side. Some of the issues brought up in the past will be completed this summer. The Basin has cut some of the branches along the paved section to the staging area but the limbs still need to be picked up and disposed of. Placer will be repaving holes and repairing the paved section. The areas of the trail that hold standing water will be worked on.

Rusty will again be leading a crew to work on hardening and stabilizing Cadillac Hill. I’ll be maintaining the three water bars on Cadillac Hill as well as blocking one illegal bypass.

Representatives of local clubs were asking what they could do, so we’ll be working with them to select a project on the trail.

The full FOTR meeting will be held May 3rd in Placerville at the DOT office. The public is welcome if you’d like to drive over the hill. Once that meeting is held, we should have a clearer direction of what FOTR would like to take on this season.

Thanks go out to Paul for making the meeting happen. And thanks to those who took the time to show up. If you have comments about what you would like to see done on the trail, post up or contact FOTR directly.

Still lots of snow on the trail

I drove up the Rubicon yesterday.  Okay, let me confess, your rig works better with both hubs locked.  I drove up quite a ways before realizing I never locked my left hub.  A Detroit locker and Power Locker really help. I only got as far as the border between the TNF and the LTBMU.  The creek crossings were getting a little steep on approach and I figured that being the lone rig and lone driver, that I should stop and hike.

Turning around was one of the biggest challenges.  Most of the trail is a two track.  It reminded me of driving the cars at Disneyland as a kid.

I hiked up the Richardson lake Trail a little bit to see how the ‘meadows’ were holding up after the winter.  They are all still under three feet of snow.  I should remind the users that the Richardson Lake Trail is closed.  It will be closed for some time as we work to decide on what each ‘meadow’ section needs and when we can perform the fix.

The paved road is getting beat up.  Please use caution and look for potholes and a narrowing road.  Placer County will be working on the paved section as soon as the snow clear off the road.



I heard that this tree fell late last fall (photo above).  It will need a little trimming but is currently passable.  There were other trees down in the area.  Some had crossed the trail and were already cleared and some were off to the side of the trail.  This time of year, always carry a saw and be careful when using it.

It will probably be another month before the trail dries out well enough to be travelled regularly. Right now, there is still enough snow for it to be considered snow wheeling.  In a week, it will have melted enough to be wet dirt and possibly damaging.