Working two fronts on the Rubicon these days: TNF and trail maintenance and Placer County and snow at the entrance.
For the record, I’ve been working with or fighting with Placer County over snow at the trailhead for more than three years. I’ve attended many meetings with former Supervisor Montgomery regarding this issue. Nothing came from those meetings.
Yesterday, a good group met at the trailhead: Placer County, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit and users. There were about eight of us.
My takeaways were that Placer County would move the winter parking rules sign closer to the road (Evergreen Way) and mount it higher. The plow operators would try and recognize the Rubicon as a driveway. Placer would try and reach out to the local snow removal contractors and the local homeowners association.
Placer County is going to try and get a local community meeting set up for January in Tahoe City to try and get everyone in the same room to work out solutions.
The commercial snow removal contractor that cleared the trail a number of times last winter was on hand. He offered to occasionally use his equipment to clear the berm as needed but not regularly.
Ideas that were also discussed were notching the berm so any ramp built would not interfere with traffic on Evergreen Way. Placer thought this might promote parking in that notch thus blocking the trail.
Other thoughts were to groom or plow the first part of the Rubicon, either to the quad parking area or all the way to the staging area. This would need a grant written to fund those ideas. Maybe in the next few years.
The entrance will probably get large 4×4 markers to let everyone know exactly where the trail starts. We are also discussing putting up a warning sign. I might have shared it here before:
This sign would be put in two places, about 200 yards up from Evergreen Way and on the trail just after leaving the staging area.
In the end I was happy at how things had moved forward, then Peter Kraatz sent out a late email last night.
Peter asked if we could “table” the use of commercial equipment until he could work out a few things as use of that equipment could bring complaints. This point was at the heart of getting and keeping access.
This morning, I fired off a email to the group that has been talking about this for weeks, Peter included. I told Peter “No”, I would not back off on the use of commercial equipment and that he had until the berm gets built up with snow fall and illegal dumping to get his act together.
In my last post, I really laid in to the Tahoe National Forest. I was not alone in my position. Those who held similar views gathered with me at the TNF offices this morning to converse with Joe Chavez.
It was a full room:
Joe Chavez – TNF head ranger
John Brokaw – TNF Truckee district OHV guy
Will Harris – TNF Archeologist / surveyor
Jack Sweeney – former El Dorado County Superviser
Bob Sweeney – President Jeepers Jamboree
Vickie Sanders – El Dorado County Parks & Trails
Justin (missed his last name) – El Dorado County Parks & Trails
Doug Barr – Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s Vice President
Callan McLaughlin – CA State Parks OHMVR
Brian Robertson – CA State Parks OHMVR
To their credit, the TNF acknowledged that they could have done a better job at reaching out to all the groups that have an interest in the maintenance of the Rubicon Trail.
Many expressed concerns over the dirt work done very late in the season. The TNF pushed back on this a few times noting they do it elsewhere and that a snow storm was coming in to harden the lose dirt berms and prevent erosion.
I think it was determined that such dirt work would not be done so late in the year due to proper planning and scheduling.
At the end of the day, I think everyone agreed that a better communications system needs to be in place moving forward. All agencies and groups will be in the loop. Formal open house meetings will take place prior to doing any work.
Hopefully, public meetings will take place to include the public in the planning process. We should be able to bring our concerns and thoughts about maintenance to the agencies responsible for getting it done.
One of the more surprising moments was when Jack Sweeney laid out the process that El Dorado County used to get an easement from the Forest Service. He said they stopped at the Placer County line only because they could not work in Placer County but that the argument for an easement within El Dorado carried through Placer County all the way to Lake Tahoe.
The other thing I learned was that there is a second document to follow the MOU. This second document should clear up the details as the MOU was very vague.
Concerns linger about who can and should write grants for the Rubicon Trail. The CA State Parks OHMVR Division recognizes that an agency can write a grant for the entire length of the trail. But, no two agencies can write a grant for the same section of OHV trail. So the El Dorado County and the TNF can not BOTH write grants for the same section of trail. All of the agencies will need to coordinate their grant requests so they don’t all get thrown out.
It was a good start at laying the ground work for getting all the agencies together, on the same page for future maintenance.
Tomorrow, there is a meeting with Placer County at the eastern trailhead to discuss the snow berm, illegal snow dumping and how Placer’s plowing adds to that berm.