Let me start by saying that I am glad that work is finally getting done on the Rubicon Trail.
What bothers me is the complete failure to communicate.
Again, the users were not a part of the planning for this work, the users were not made aware that the work was going to take place and the users were not allowed to volunteer during this maintenance effort. Or were they?
So, the Lake Tahoe Basin Managment Unit (LTBMU) was out on the trail last week rebuilding some of the rolling dips that were put in place way back in 2000. It is my understanding that the work was funded by the Rubicon Trail Foundation (RTF), but I have not confirmed that, yet.
The photos are not the best, but I blame the sun, or the shadows. This is rolling dip (always improperly referred to as a ‘water bar’) is number one. Back in the day, 28 of these were placed to prevent water from running down the trail. Back then, each rolling dip was rock lined to prevent erosion.
Unfortunately, the LTBMU did not consult anyone before doing the work. Obviously, they know absolutely everything. They must tour the trail every spring documenting the run-off from melting snow. They must know the best building techniques to build long-lasting rolling dips. Or not.
Where to begin. Many of the rolling dips that were rebuilt, shouldn’t have been. Of the original 28, there were a good eight that should never have been placed. But Placer went overboard. So did the LTBMU.
If you drive the Middle Fork Trail up Blackwood Canyon, you’ll see some absolutely great rolling dips. They’re HUGE. But the LTBMU did not build the same rolling dips for the Rubicon. These are mostly loose river rock that will break down and not last.
Some of the drains are dug well enough to work but others are not, or worse, don’t exist.
Again, some don’t exist…
This missing rolling dip is the old 7A designation. There is a creek on the right that doesn’t quite reach the Arizona Crossing (rolling dip #8). The water will continue to flow all the way down the trail to number 7, where it will be directed off the trail.
So, I alluded to the fact that the users might have known about this work. But the more I look at the email, the topic might have been other work.
Here’s the deal, on September 27th, the Tahoe National Forest (TNF) reached out about an upcoming work party for October 9th. It was a drain building/cleaning effort. I don’t know all of the names to whom the email was sent. But Friends of the Rubicon (FOTR) received it.
I honestly don’t know if the work party ever happened. But I do know that four of the largest four-wheel drive clubs on the Tahoe end of the trail never got the word. The Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s, Tahoe Donner 4-Wheelers, Sierra Stompers and the Hills Angels never sent out an email to their members about a work party. Reno4x4.com never posted about an upcoming work party.
So, who dropped the ball?
FOTR got the word. I’m not on that email list so I only assume it went out to the list as at least one person let me know they got it.
RTF knew about the rolling dip work, if they did indeed fund it. I never saw anything on their website about it. Just looking at their website, I don’t see anything about maintenance projects. There is an FOTR page.
So, how is the typical user supposed to learn about possible project in order to make comments before the project? How is the typical supposed to learn about scheduled projects in order to help out or avoid the trail that day?
It seems like nobody sees a need to get the word out. That’s disappointing as the users should know. The users should be involved. Volunteer time can be used as matching funds for grants.
If we could only talk to each other.
The Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) and the Tahoe National Forest (TNF) both closed the Rubicon Trail for no justifiable reason during the Mosquito Fire.
Although the closure notices went up quickly, it was a fight to get the Forest Service (FS) to remove the forest order from their website. Many organizations and individuals pressured the Forest Service until the orders were removed. The last order was finally removed from the FS website on October 4th. Remember that on September 27th, the closure order was officially terminated. That’s a full week, for those of you counting.
But what about out on the trail? On Sunday, October 2nd, I ventured out on the trail. This sign was found at the intersection of the Rubicon Trail and the Buck Lake Trail. It was knocked over but still left on the trail.
Take a moment to read those signs that were publicly posted. The FS was posting that the entire forest was closed when in fact only the Rubicon Trail was closed by the forest order. That’s a bit of an overreach.
If we continue to allow the FS to abuse their power, they will only continue to increase the level and frequency of that abuse.
More of a concern, this posting was discovered on a tree along the Rubicon Trail at the intersection of the Ellis Peak Trail. It is a laminated copy of the forest order closing the Rubicon Trail and the associated map. No evidence of the associated termination order issued almost a week ago.
Those signs are no longer in public view but why didn’t the FS do a better job of removing all evidence of the closure?
At the old ATV rental parking area, along the paved portion, the barricades used to block public access were still alongside the Rubicon Trail. One view could be that the FS just hasn’t come back to pick them up or you could think that FS is just leaving them there for the next closure. I’m betting that the two FS guards that staffed the barricade were in a pick-up truck and could have removed the signage when they left.
We all need to keep an eye on all FS actions that close our public lands. We need to challenge each and every closure. And when they reopen, we need to make sure the FS posts the reopening as fast as it posted the closure. Obviously, it will be up to us to get the word out as soon as possible.
My last post outlined the work done by the Lake Tahoe Basin Mangement Unit (LTBMU). On Sunday, I ran the trail down to the Springs.
Along the way, it was clear that the Tahoe National Forest (TNF) had also done extensive work on the Rubicon Trail while it was closed. Large, crushed rock had been placed in many, many low spots along the trail. But not ALL the low spots and not in a few smaller very deep holes.
Note the low spot just past the rock in the picture below, not filled in:
The official word was that the trail was closed due to extreme fire danger. But in one report, individuals working with the ‘landowners’ were allowed on to the trail and down to the Springs. Now we have evidence that workers were doing extensive work over a long period of time. And the trail was closed due to extreme fire danger. I assume all of the workers were wearing Nomex, helmets and carrying fire shelters.
This is much needed work but why close the trail to do it?
If they had reached out to the users for help, we could have provided, trailers, warm bodies and financing to accomplish MORE work in the same amount of time. But they didn’t and we still have issues:
The Forest Service (FS) does not play well with others. This is evidence of that. Why? This work was done without the knowledge of the users, without any input from the users and without assistance of the users.
Now the FS, at least the Basin, in this case does not need to inform anyone when they work on their land. But the Tahoe should be informing the others, that are part of the MOU regarding management of the Rubicon, about work to be done on the trail. Did that happen?
Should the users be involved in this communications chain? Yes. Who should be informed on the part of the users? BRC, Cal4, United 4wd, RTF, CORVA, FOTR, local clubs, certain individuals?
More than ever,