RANT warning: “My lack of confidence in the Rubicon Trail Foundation (RTF)”

A quick timeline of events:

8/14   Caldor fire starts in the Eldorado National Forest

8/17   The Eldorado National Forest is closed

8/18   El Dorado County closes the Rubicon Trail

8/19   The Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) closes the west shore

8/19 I email RTF, asking what the “heck”? The fire is 12 miles away!

8/19   An hour later Region-5 closes all northern California forests

9/15 – Region-5 reopens the forests, two days earlier than expected

9/15 El Dorado County opens the Rubicon for day use only

9/20 – The LTBMU re-closes the west shore, the Rubicon Trail and wilderness areas

9/21 – I post about the re-closure on my website, linking to the LTBMU page

9/21 I post on the RTF Facebook page about the closure

9/21 Minutes later, RTF removes my post and about the closure

9/21 I emailed the entire RTF board asking why my post was removed and why they are not getting the closure info out to the users

9/21 RTF informed me they got yelled out for lack of complete information so they’re waiting until they have all the information. We’re still waiting, more than a week later.

Bottom line, RTF is not only holding back critical information from the users, they are actively suppressing information about the Rubicon Trail being closed.

I guess the big question is why would RTF suppress this information? RTF claims they wanted ALL the correct information before posting. I say, post the facts you can prove. Link to the LTBMU website and post the actual Forest Service (FS) documents and answer questions as they come in. To date, RTF has NOT posted about the Basin closure that runs through Oct 20th.

The Rubicon Trail Foundation mission statement: “To enhance the future health and use of the Rubicon trail, while ensuring responsible, motorized, year-round trail access.”

My personal assumption is that RTF doesn’t want to be seen as unable to keep the trail open “for year-round trail access” as their mission statement claims, so they just ignoring the closure.

Back when I emailed RTF about the early (8/19) LTBMU west shore closure, I wanted someone to push back on the LTBMU jumping the gun with an over-reaction and unnecessary closure. My feelings are that if these closures don’t get pushback, the FS will continue to put these closures in place, earlier and longer. I’ll point to campfire restrictions as my example. Think about full forest closures following the same closure dates as campfires.

Now, after Region-5 re-opens all northern California forests except the Eldorado. The LTBMU places a closure order on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, including the Rubicon Trail. Why?

Recognize that the Tahoe National Forest (TNF) has not closed the portion of their forest that lies between the Eldorado and the LTBMU! The Rubicon is open from Miller Lake to Miller Creek; the Hobbit Trail is open; Ellis Peak and many other trails are open but land locked by closures and restrictions.

The Rubicon Trail is still a county road within the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit and the TNF. Does the Forest Service really have the authority to close a county road, with no “emergency” at hand? Remember the Caldor Fire is now 76% contained fire is 10-12 miles away.

Today’s FS press release scales down the Eldorado closure and reopens part of the Eldorado closure but the LTBMU closure documents are included without change. The Rubicon remains closed. Ironically, the Noonchester Mine Road is open off the Rubicon because the ‘closure’ is listed as “backcountry”.

So, the TNF is open, the Eldorado is starting to re-open but the west shore of the LTBMU remains closed!

The Basin has overreacted and needs to be told exactly that. RTF and others need to push back on the current closure and fight to keep the Rubicon Trail open for “motorized, year-round trail access”.

FYI, the toilets at the Tahoma staging area were closed this morning, so those going to check conditions or not knowing of the closure have nowhere but the forest along McKinney Creek to ‘go’ when visiting the staging area. Not good.

Staying with Tahoe side issues:

No word on where we stand with the snow wall at the Tahoma entrance. Last I heard, Placer County was going to continue to ‘prioritize clearing the residential streets over keeping the Rubicon entrance clear of snow’. (not a true quote, but close)

One RTF board member said he thought that meeting went well! How is that “ensuring responsible, motorized, year-round trail access”?

Lahontan Water Authority issued a “Cease & Desist” when a small group of trail users used commercial snow removal equipment to clear the Tahoma entrance of snow piled there by Placer County.

When asked what RTF was going to do about that order, another RTF board member said that it was not their fight. How is that “ensuring responsible, motorized, year-round trail access”?

RTF supported the reroute around “the mud hole”. They worked with the Tahoe National Forest, built a berm to control the water flow of the seasonal creek crossing, cut down trees, blocked the original trail, placed fencing & rock down to create the current bypass.

The reroute is much narrower and has tighter turns. It’s also a dust mess. Lots of erosion. I’d like to know what that reroute does to a possible future RS2477 legal challenge. Since it’s not the original county road route, can the FS seasonally close it?

Early this year, there was literally no water in the old mud hole, while the rest of the Tahoe side was a wet mess. The berm did an excellent job and the reroute is actually no longer needed as long as the berm is maintained. Are we going to go back to the original route?

As the title of this rant says, I have lost confidence in RTF to do the right thing for the users and for the trail. There is the possibility that RTF is working in the background to get things done but following the list of to-do’s mentioned above, and the length of time those issues have been active, I’m not hearing that the RTF has been successful.

I’ll even put my real name to this one…

.

Doug Barr



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