Spider Excavator Work on Cadillac Hill by TNF

Here we go..

Last week, El Dorado County voted to approve an MOU regarding maintenance and management of the Rubicon Trail. The Tahoe National Forest also signed on. I do not know the date the TNF signed on.

In that Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), all the agencies agreed to:

A. Coordinate in the planning and management related to the Rubicon Trail.
B. Coordinate efforts to provide maintenance, interpretive, educational, and outreach programs with consistent messaging to the public and recreational users on the Rubicon Trail.

On Monday, just days after this MOU was signed, Joe Chavez, of the Tahoe National Forest, contracted a Spider Excavator to go out to Cadillac Hill to perform trail maintenance.

The Tahoe National Forest did not coordinate their planning with the other agencies in the MOU. The TNF did not coordinate that maintenance and did not do outreach to the public before starting this work.

Days in to this agreement and Joe Chavez, the head of the TNF is already breaking the rules!

Even thought Joe Chavez asked for and was given my contact information to get my input or cooperation, he never contacted me about this work. Fortunately, I was made aware of the work and decided to show up and watch the “show” as this is an extraordinary piece of equipment. Bob Sweeney of Jeepers Jamboree was also on hand Monday.

The work started just above Morris Rock as there wasn’t time to get the equipment down to the ‘swamp’ area west of Miller Creek. And that’s a good thing. Here’s the before shot:

The TNF directed the Spider to dig up hardened dirt to create a loose dirt berm to prevent erosion. Bob and I were not on board with what the TNF was doing.

Unfortunately, the work done I in the shade and hard to see, but it’s a berm of loose dirt that will get pushed down the trail with vehicle traffic and rainfall/snowmelt.

Although the lower creek crossing was deepened, the berm was not hardened.

Loose rock was placed at the upper hairpin and a drain was created off to the lower left of the photo. This material will end up down the trail, maybe all the way to the lower creek crossing.

This was typical of the rolling dips installed by the FS. I was able to talk Joe out of a few of these claiming there wasn’t a lot of running water on the trail. But he snuck in an extra in a few places he hadn’t planned.

If I weren’t there, the FS would have started moving the boulders around above this creek crossing! The crossing was deepened. The two logs were left in place below that dirt berm so even if the soil washes away, the logs will stay.

Another rolling dip/drain with loose soil.

You can see another rolling dip in the far distance. Joe is shown rolling a rock off the trail. A side trail was obliterated here (before I showed up Tuesday morning) as Joe wants to eliminate all side trails. I was able to talk him out of obliterating several longer sections but he wants to revisit those closings in the spring.

This rock was sticking up out (about a foot) of the middle of the trail enough to scare drivers to go around it, thus widening the trail. Joe wants to narrow the trail where he can. He left a hole in the middle of the trail that will grow and grow.

Some good work was done. The Spider moved around and half way buried a few of the larger rocks here to harden this section and to make it more appealing to users. I think the go around will stay but I know Joe doesn’t like it.

A decent place for a rolling dip but again loose soil and not hardened. Below Observation.

The before just west of Barker Meadow OHV Trail and east of Hummer Bend, looking east:

Looking west after blocking the very short side trail.

I was able to talk Joe in to 4-5 drains to get standing spring water off the trail. He was unaware of these issues on the Placer side. So there were some wins.

Potato Patch, before. The plan was to make this step a little easier, moving some of the stray boulders out of the center and create a ramp:

I think it worked pretty well but it won’t hold for more than 100 rigs. More rock needs to be placed to lock in the larger boulders.

The before on the hard line at Potato Patch. Many DEEP holes:

Some of the boulder from the ‘center’ were place in the holes of this section. It’s better. At least doable by more built rigs but will need more work in the spring.

That was the last work done by the spider. I skipped over many, many more things it did: questionable rolling dips, closures and really good drainages.

Obviously, we had a little snow moving in on us around noon.

Not all of the agencies are on board with this work. There will be some heated discussions moving forward regarding what gets done, how it’s decided and who leads the charge.

I will do everything I can to get in to those rooms and I will keep you informed.

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Rubicon Ronin, aka Doug Barr


I was wrong…

I’m not going to remove the previous post but it’s wrong.

The MOU approved by El Dorado County allows for El Dorado County to write a grant for the entire length of the trail. CA State Parks is onboard and is allowing that grant over multiple jurisdictions.

El Dorado County still has maintenance responsibilities over the tail within El Dorado County but the Forest Service (with the Tahoe National Forest being the lead forest) has maintenance responsibilities within Placer County. So, we only got half way there.

So, CA State Parks has signed the MOU, as has El Dorado County and the Tahoe National Forest.

As of today, Placer County, the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit and the Eldorado National Forest has not yet signed on.

There is a chance that not everyone will sign on and the group will go back to the drawing board in order to get consistent trail maintenance across the entire trail.

Stay tuned!


MOU is approved!

THIS POST IS INCORRECT. THE MOU ALLOWS FOR ONE AGENCY TO WRITE A GRANT FOR THE ENTIRE TRAIL BUT MAINTENANCE IS STILL DIVIDED BETWEEN EL DORADO COUNTY ON THE WEST AND THE TAHOE NATIONAL FOREST ON THE EAST. (11-27-19) MORE TO COME.

It’s now official. The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors voted on Friday to approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that puts the management and maintenance of the entire length of the Rubicon Trail solely in the hands of El Dorado County.

This is a very good thing.

Back in the day, Placer got onboard with the users and was doing trail maintenance. Placer slowly backed off leaving maintenance to FOTR and RTF. Enthusiasm slowly dwindled with no grant money coming in and no one officially leading maintenance efforts.

For years, El Dorado County has been working with the Eldorado National Forest and CA State Parks in obtaining grant funds and maintaining the Rubicon Trail. Basically, they’ve saved the trail from closure.

This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is between El Dorado County, Placer County, CA Department of Parks and Recreation Off-Road Division, Eldorado National Forest, Tahoe National Forest and the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.

The Placer County side of the trail will now get getting funding along with the El Dorado County side. The trail will be managed as ONE!

Link to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

El Dorado County has been reaching out to users and volunteers by holding ‘Rubicon Oversight Committee’ (ROC) meetings on the road. There are plans to hold a Rubicon meeting this March in the Reno area to explain what’s going on and to answer any and all questions you may have. Stay tuned.

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Rubicon Ronin


Roundabouts in Tahoe City

So, this isn’t really Rubicon specific but you should know what’s happening on your routes to and from the Rubicon.

Two of the three roundabouts, and the bridge between them, are finally finished and open for use in Tahoe City. The reason for the two new roundabouts and the new bridge over the Truckee River is to reduce traffic congestion in the area.

Above, the roundabout approaching Tahoe City from 89 south.

Above, 89 north approaching Tahoe City. The bridge on the right goes out to 89 bypassing Tahoe City.

By bypassing Tahoe City summer congestion, your drive time and your stress will be reduced!

There is still one more roundabout planned for where the traffic signal is in downtown Tahoe City. They should be able to knock that one out next summer.

Let’s hope they do actually reduce traffic delays.


Control of the Placer Side

Control of the management and maintenance of the Placer County side of the Rubicon Trail is being decided right now. Literally, right now.

Until recently, Placer County has denied any authority over the Rubicon Trail. Lately, they have decided they want or have a hand in it but don’t want the day to day responsibility of applying for grants and to manage the maintenance of the Rubicon Trail.

Placer County and El Dorado County are currently working on an MOU (memorandum of understanding) that will allow El Dorado County the full legal authority to manage the Placer County side of the Rubicon Trail. To be clear, this will give El Dorado County authority over the entire length of the Rubicon Trail. My understanding is that they are very close to making this a done deal.

On the surface, this is a good thing. Placer has failed to apply for and receive steady grant funding and really has been hands off for years. Read as no maintenance has been done on the Placer side for years. El Dorado County has been extremely successful in getting grant money for the Rubicon Trail.

The down side is the lack of transparency. El Dorado County is currently working with Placer County, the Tahoe National Forest (TNF), the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) and who knows who else, in order to decide what maintenance gets done and when.

The Rubicon Trail Foundation (RTF) had been the representative for the users for 15 years. Lately, El Dorado County cuts ties (probably not the best term) with RTF. I’m not sure, but I’m betting that RTF is not in the room when these negotiations are being made. I do not know of any user representative that is in the room.

Worse, projects that had been on the books to take place this summer season have been cancelled. The LTBMU cancelled the installation of a new kiosk at the Tahoma staging area along with cancelling the paving of the staging area. They literally waited until the last moment to inform some of the users. Note, the funding for these two projects ahs been in the LTBMU’s control for years. The RTF had scheduled to bring in a contractor to rebuild the 28 rolling dips within the LTBMU this fall. Again, at the last moment, the project was cancelled. They didn’t tell anyone until I went asking about it.

Friends of the Rubicon (FOTR) who normally had worked closely with El Dorado County on trail maintenance projects has been dropped as a close partner and relegated to just another volunteer, ignoring their 20 year history of maintaining the Rubicon Trail.

I have been asking for information on what’s going on, where we’re going and who’s involved in making these decisions. I was told to call Vickie Sanders of El Dorado County. I replied that I didn’t want information for me but for all users. I asked that any and all information be posted for the public to view 24/7. El Dorado County and RTF have pushed back and said if you want information, call us.

El Dorado County is about to control our trail.  All I’m asking for is for them to explain how that process is going to work, how they will keep the users and volunteers informed and how they will allow the users in to the decision-making process.

I don’t think I’m asking too much.

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Rubicon Ronin