Here is the email I recently received from the ENF regarding the Deer Valley Trail:
You are receiving this email to inform you that a Draft Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Deer Valley 4wd Trail Meadow Restoration and Blue Lakes/Meadow Lake Road Maintenance Project has been prepared and is available for your review. See attached cover letter.
The Draft Decision Notice and FONSI, Environmental Assessment (September 2016), and Specialist Reports can be found on the Eldorado National Forest website at: http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/nepa_project_exp.php?project=45439
This proposed decision is subject to objection pursuant to 36 CFR 218. See attached cover letter for more information on the administrative review process. The legal notice announcing the opportunity to object to the proposed decision is anticipated to be published in the Mountain Democrat on September 30, 2016.
Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you.
Matt Brown Botanist
The next step is a 45 day “objection period”. After that, Crabtree has to issue a final decision. Unfortunately, they can and will delay enough to postpone the re-opening of the trail until next season. The season officially ends Jan 1st but will most likely it will be moved up because of wet conditions.
Cover letter to object link:
So, next year, six weeks after the snow melts at the weather monitoring site, the trail will open. Historically, that will be mid-July although it could be as early as late June or as late as mid-August.
I have asked the ENF if we can perform trail maintenance this year on the approaches and departures to both creek crossings. This would allow the work to harden over winter, a common FS practice. The ENF has not replied to my emails.
I just sent a letter to the president and vice president of the Rubicon Trail Foundation (RTF) asking that they keep the users informed of any maintenance efforts by either county PRIOR to any decision being made so the users can comment on these efforts.
Some maintenance efforts are being done that have nothing to do with safety or water quality. It’s all about making the trail easier in certain places so some people don’t put a scrape on their rig.
Rubicon Trail Foundation
September 27, 2016
Sean & John,
I am writing to ask that RTF keep the users of the Rubicon Trail informed of any maintenance efforts prior to the work being approved in order for the users to be able to comment on these efforts.
There are past examples of work done that was neither a safety issue nor a water quality issue. There is one effort planned, but not yet performed, that does not fall within either of those categories.
By creating a new page on your website of proposed, current and completed Rubicon Trail maintenance and which agency is leading it and how the public can comment on those issues, the users would be informed and would have the ability to comment on how our trail is managed.
Rogue maintenance is also an issue. RTF should develop professional relations with all organizations that may have or might perform such maintenance without agency approval and discourage such actions.
Too many decisions are being made behind closed doors or without users’ approval or input. Some of this is on us for not attending meetings but most users work M-F and can’t attend these meetings. So, again I am asking that RTF attend those meeting on our behalf and to keep us informed.
I will be starting a thread on www.Pirate4x4.com to allow Rubicon Trail users comment on this idea. I ask that you join in on the conversation.
I’ve also started a thread on Pirate4x4 to allow the public to weigh in with their thoughts. Please feel free to follow and/or comment on the issue.
Author’s note: I was going to hold off on this just to space out my posts but a conversation online just now made me decide to post it. For the record, I don’t alter the trail. I repair the trail. My work is pre-approved by the Tahoe National Forest or involves getting water off or across the trail in order to minimize erosion. (Also pre-approved; generally not specifically.)
Unfortunately, there are those out there that alter the trail for their own personal gain, either making the trail easier or making the trail harder. Some are trying to do good work but skip too many steps and the work doesn’t last and sometimes hurts.
In order for keep our trails open, safe and maintained properly, we must all speak up when our opinions are being asked. We should volunteer when we can. Comment on grants, attend your local FS meetings, join organizations that fight for your ‘pursuit of happiness’! Rant Off.
A new illegal bypass has appeared on Cadillac Hill this summer. I don’t know when it appeared or who started it but it’s not the first of it’s kind. Not twenty yards from this one was a previous attempt to bypass the trail around a difficult section.
You can see the ‘new’ bypass looking straight in to the photo. The top of the old bypass is in front of the bumper of the Jeep on the right side of the photo.
I get that people are tired and sometimes broken when they are driving out, but that doesn’t mean you are allowed to make an easier route. Please stay on the trail.
The bypass was blocked by moving a rather large log to block the route.
Both ends of the log were drilled and rebar was placed to prevent the removal of the log. I know this will not prevent those who really want to remove it from removing it but they will have to work at it and they will know they are doing something wrong.
Signs were placed on both sides of the log to let people know that this is the will of the forest service, not an individual.
Not wanting to hide from the work I perform under the guidance of the forest service, I put the logo of this website on the sign along with the USFS logo and the CA State Parks logo because they mange and fund respectively a large portion of the maintenance of our OHV trails.
We are our own worst enemy sometimes. Driving off trail and creating new route just gives the anti-OHV people more ammunition to use against us and to close our trails.
We need to work together. There are those who illegally modify the trail to make it harder and there are those who illegally drive off trail to find an easier route. We need to find a middle ground.
If you would like to discuss this issue further, please email me TheOtherRubicon@Charter.net.
This campground is even a little more formal than Blackwood. You get cleaner pit toilets, parking on asphalt and a view of Lake Tahoe. But there is a catch, you must pay. These campsite can be reserved so call ahead.
And you must obey…
If that didn’t scare you off, the entrance is right off highway 89 at the entrance to Blackwood Canyon and forest road 03:
Plenty of FS rules, notices and instructions:
Nicer pit toilets as there is a camp host who lives in his RV in the parking lot all summer long.
It’s a bit of a hike to get to some of the campsites. And there not much separating you from your neighbors.
Did I mention a view of Lake Tahoe? It’s a “filtered” view.
There is a trade off between a great lake view and a little more road noise.
Just in case you’re interested, the FS is looking for help in the form of campground host.
The guy working there this summer says he splits his time between Kaspian and the Meeks Bay campground. He travels a lot and doesn’t work the same area two summers in a row. It could be a great retirement gig and a great way to see the country.
For a more formal (minimally) camping experience in the Rubicon area, one of my suggestions is the Blackwood Campground. To get there, drive two miles up Blackwood Canyon on the paved forest road 03, then keep right on to forest road (trail) 15N38, the Middle Fork Trail. The first section of the trail to the camp area is a flat dirt road. Okay, it has a few low rollers and too many potholes, but a motorhome could get there.
This is a designated camp area so you are only allowed to put up a tent and stay over night in one of the six designated campsites. It’s a first come, first serve, no reservation area. There are two pit toilets and plenty of parking for large groups. Although the FS only allows six people per campsite per this sign posted at Blackwood but bearing the name of “Luther Pass”:
There is a large day use meeting/cooking area. Please check fire restrictions before using the BBQ. It would be a great place to have a group meet up as an alternative to the Rubicon staging area.
The campground map:
The pit toilets and ample parking.
Photos of the campsites, some are in the trees more than others. Bear boxes, fire pit with grill and a picnic bench are provided in each site.
Now the signs don’t say anything about parking regulations. So here’s a thought, if the Rubicon staging area is full, park here and either drive the highway down to the Rubicon or if you’re in a green sticker vehicle, drive the LONG drive on forest road 03 over to the Rubicon. It’s probably 15 miles.
You could take 15N38 (Middle Fork) to the summit, then 16E79 (Upper Barker Meadow) to 03, then drop down 16E76 (Lower Barker Meadow) to the Rubicon. Lower Barker Meadow OHV Route is a kick in the pants. If you haven’t done it, check it out. You will never hold the steering wheel straight.