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…

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Doug Barr


Rubicon meeting tonight 3/12 — CANCELLED — due to Corona Virus Fears

Update, I just received word from Placer County that the scheduled MAC meeting for tonight has been cancelled due to Corona Virus fears. When the meeting does take place with the Rubicon on the agenda, I will let you know.

I just received notice (last night late) that there will be a Placer County meeting tonight that has the Rubicon on the agenda. They will be discussing the snowberm and winter use of the Rubicon Trail.

MAC meeting, 6:00 PM, Thursday, March 12, Tahoe City PUD, 221 Fairway Drive, Tahoe City, CA

On the agenda is:

Rubicon Trail Winter Usage and Trailhead Update

County staff will provide an update on Rubicon Trail winter usage and the trailhead in the McKinney Rubicon neighborhood.

Presenter: Peter Kraatz, Department of Public Works

I will try and attend to represent the interests of OHV.

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Rubicon Ronin


Rubicon Oversight Committee meeting

Last Thursday, 2/20/20, El Dorado County held a Rubicon Oversight Comittee meeting in South Lake Tahoe. Here are my notes…

Rubicon Oversight Committee meeting

February 20, 2020                         South Lake Tahoe

Vickie Sanders & Justin Williams El Dorado County Parks & Trails

Nineteen in attendance: eight users (six Hi-Lo’s & two Tahoe Donner 4-Wheelers) the rest were agency representatives

Not being a professional secretary, I’m just going to type out the notes I took:

Adopt-a-trail

16 segments within El Dorado County, one available for adoption, Buck Lake area

Holding off on adoptions of the Placer side until the major fixes have been completed

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

Many agencies have come together to agree to support management and maintenance of the Rubicon Trail:

El Dorado County Placer County
Eldorado National Forest Tahoe National Forest Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit CA State Parks – OHMVR Division

Vickie Sanders is THE point of contact for all things Rubicon. She will get you in touch with the right person for you question/concern.

Rubicon Trail Foundation

RTF has donated $32,000 for ten hours of helicopter fly time to fly rock in to the trail where it is needed:

Cadillac Hill (gabions to be built on site) Swamp area near Miller Creek Hardening of rolling dips

Grants

Grants are to be written as if the trail is under the management of a single agency. This year CA State Parks wanted letters from each agency but in the future the MOU will prevent that need.

Reroute & Cadillac (not the same issue)

Plans are in the works to reroute the Rubicon Trail away from the section where the trail is about to fall off in to Miller Creek. There are old logging roads that will be used for the reroute. Part of the current grant is to do the studies needed to make this happen. This year is planning, next year is approvals, maybe to be completed in 2022.

A historical analysis of the Placer County section of the trail is just one of the studies that will need to be completed before the reroute and before ANY major work on the trail.

El Dorado County’s system is to do “major” work on the trail every other year. This give the county time to plan for future major projects and to catch-up if a “major” project drags out. 2020 is a “major” year as Cadillac Hill will see “major” work.

The Staging Area

The LTBMU received a grant to pave the staging area four years ago. That grant expires in Sept of 2020 and wasn’t enough to cover the cost of paving. With the new MOU, the Basin has reached out to El Dorado to get more money to fully complete the work. This will include expanding the size of the parking area. It also means the taking down of the trees currently within the parking area.

To Do’s: El Dorado & Placer

There is a small to do list on the El Dorado County website. Anyone, any group, can sign up to complete any of those projects.

Winter issues

There have been talks to pave the quad rental parking/staging area. This could lead to a snow removal contract (paid for with OHV funds) to access that parking area all winter long. Just talking right now.

Placer is still working on addressing the snow berm in Tahoma.

Outhouses

El Dorado County is having an F550 built to be the new Poo Pumper. RTF will no longer be contracted to do poo removal. The County has a poo pumping trailer as a back-up.

Ham

The Spider Lake repeater has been down off and on for some time. Tim Green has a separate repeater on his property that uses the same frequencies.

Tim Green also runs the “Rubicon Gazette” Facebook page. That page seems to be THE place to go for updates regarding the Rubicon Trail.

Jeepers Jamboree events

Jeepers Jamboree must now permit with the Tahoe National Forest and the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit as Placer is now not managing the Rubicon. This could lead to possible closures and/or restrictions of the trail within Placer County.

Please contact Joe Chavez is you have any comments, questions or concerns about these possible restrictions.

Maintenance levels

The TNF is also looking for input about the maintenance level the Rubicon will receive. That could be in the form of what type or level of rig should the trail be maintained. As an FYI, the Fordyce Trail is maintained to a level that a competent driver, in a rig on 35” tires and one locker will face a ‘challenge’ but be passable.

Again, contact Joe is you have an opinion.

I tried to do the best I could but I’m sure I missed something or made an error. Please contact me or Vickie is you have questions or see a mistake.

Thanks,

Doug


ENF delays trail openings

Probably to no one’s surprise, the Eldorado National Forest has delayed the opening of it’s OHV trails from April 1st to April 16th. This doesn’t effect our side too much except for the Richardson Lake Trail 14N39.

Although some of the more built rigs will be able to get to the 14N39 trailhead before April 16th, most of us will have no chance to get to the trailhead let alone run that trail to higher elevations.

Please stay off this trail until the trail officially opens. Below is the Forest Service press release regarding the subject…

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Seasonal road and motorized trail closure extended to April 15

PLACERVILLE, Calif. – Based on recent precipitation, the seasonal closure of native surface roads and motorized trails (commonly known as dirt roads) in the Eldorado National Forest has been extended to April 15. Rainfall, soil moisture, road and trail conditions, and weather forecasts are factors that trigger extending the seasonal closure beyond March 31.

“My goal is to have these roads and trails open as soon as possible for public use,” said Forest Supervisor Laurence Crabtree. “However, there has been a lot of precipitation in the last several weeks. Given current conditions, many of these roads could be badly damaged.”

The seasonal closure is designed to protect roadbeds and watersheds from damage and to protect water quality. A minimum three month closure period from January 1 through March 31 was designated for the core part of the wet season in the Eldorado National Forest Travel Management Plan. This plan also allows the seasonal dirt road closure to start earlier or be extended based on actual conditions in a given year.

Roads and trails subject to seasonal closure are marked with a “Seasonal Designation” on the current motor vehicle use map that is available free-of-charge at all Eldorado National Forest offices and on the web at: www.fs.usda.gov/eldorado. The seasonal closure does not affect routes in the Rock Creek Area near Georgetown, which has its own wet weather route closure process.

When the roads open, there will still be wet areas at higher elevations for some time. Many routes change in elevation over several miles. Visitors are encouraged to be aware of changes in the conditions of the roads they are using, and to adjust travel plans when they reach a wet section as they will be responsible for any resource damage caused by inappropriate use.

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Rubicon Ronin


Motorsports Expo – Reno March 14-17

Coming up in a few weeks is the Lockett Motorsports Expo. At the same time as the Boat Show, Pet Show and Home Show will be going on in the same building.

I will again have a booth to promote OHV on and around the Rubicon Trail. The Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s will be sharing the booth with me in order to promote their (our) club and our upcoming Gambler’s Poker Run in August.

This year I hope to have a TV, DVD player and laptop so we can show Rubicon videos and pull up TheOtherRubicon.com and the Hi-Lo’s website live.

Last year Jeepers Jamboree had an RC course set up for the kids. Yes, for the KIDS! They use it to teach proper trail etiquette and to Tread Lightly!

All the local 4wd clubs turn out and put their rigs on display.

We’re hoping to find room to put the Rubicon Trail Foundation’s work trailer on display as well. Here it is in action dropping the new granite mile marker at the intersection of the Rubicon Trail and Forest Road 03-04.

Hope to see you there,

.

Rubicon Ronin