As with all of you, I’m trying to get a handle on this Mosquito Fire Rubicon closure situation. So, I try and find all the current information that I can, so I can pass it along to you.
The Tahoe National Forest and the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit still have a forest order in place closing the Rubicon Trail. I just checked (9/25/22, 7:45am), it’s still on the LTBMU website.
El Dorado County’s ‘Parks’ page and the subsequent ‘Rubicon’ page still have the Rubicon Trail as closed, but then lists the guidelines for traveling. “The Rubicon Trail is closed and the guidelines traveling are:” A little confusing.
Poking around the website a little more, the El Dorado County’s Sheriff has NOT posted the Rubicon Trail as closed. It lists Ice House Road and Wentworth Springs Road as closed but NOT the Rubicon Trail. A little more confusing.
From the same website, the El Dorado County closure map shows nothing closed or under current evacuation orders. Now, this map does not show roads but shouldn’t it reflect the current FS closures?
Per the Eldorado National Forest, the current closure has the area ahead of the active fire closed.
Our government agencies need to get their act together and become more transparent and to provide accurate information to the general public. The purpose of getting this information out is to educate the general public about where they can safely and legally travel and where they can’t. If the information out there is vague or contradictory, the public is confused.
I’m hoping that tomorrow, through the re-evaluation that has been promised, the Rubicon Trail will once again be open to the public. I’m betting they wait until the end of the day to make an announcement, if they announce anything. It’s more likely that if they reopen the Rubicon, they’ll just remove all orders but not tell anyone the trail has reopened.
As you all are well aware, a rather large storm has recently passed through the Sierra. The storm brough much needed rain and even snow in the higher elevations. This will help firefighters get better control of the Mosquito Fire. This morning, the containment was reported at 49%! Hopefully, that will mean reduced closures.
Also, CORVA has stepped up and into the arena and has been working to get our lands reopened that were unnecessarily closed. They have been in contact with the Forest Service, trying to explain the other side of the argument.
Several points were made to those in authority:
-the fire is 10 miles away from the Loon spillway and almost 20 miles from Rubicon Springs
-no other areas were closed along-side the Rubicon
(There were literally guards on the access road to the Tahoma staging area!)
-no other activities were shut down besides OHV
-most OHV users along the Rubicon can be contacted by radio to alert them
-OHV has the ability to extract much more quickly than other activities
-the fire is headed to old burn scars and will die down when it reaches them
One of the main points made is that OHV needs to be treated the exact same way as other forms of recreation.
It is our hope that the Forest Service will recognize the errors of their way and back down on the closure orders. Unfortunately, I don’t see the FS working very fast on this. I will post up as soon as I hear anything.
If you don’t know CORVA, it is the California Off-Road Vehicle Association. www.CORVA.org Join today. Join right now. CORVA gets out there and fights the fight. They fight for access to our public lands.
My previous post outlined a few closures due to the Mosquito Fire. The Eldorado National Forest and the Tahoe National Forest have enacted Forest Orders to close a portion of their forests for safety. The Eldorado oddly carved out the Rubicon Trail for closure even though it was far away from the active fire. The Tahoe National Forest closed a portion of their forest but not the Rubicon Trail.
Today, I learned that the Rubicon Trail has been specifically separated out for closure by both the Tahoe National Forest and the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.
Now the trails up Blackwood Canyon have not been closed. Forest Road 03-04 to the Rubicon, Hobbit and other trails have not been closed. But the Rubicon Trail has been closed. This is not a closure done for safety.
This is not the first time the Rubicon Trail was closed due to a fire a dozen or more miles away.
I’ve reached out to the Rubicon Trail Foundation (RTF) regarding the closure but they only say they are aware and working on it.
This is not an attack by the USFS on OHV. This is an attack on the Rubicon Trail by our local forest leaders. RTF seems unable to prevent or quickly reverse such unnecessary closes. Maybe it’s time we found a new group to fight to keep the Rubicon Trail open.
This does not directly affect the Rubicon Trail or side trails on the Tahoe side but I think it might affect a few on the Loon Lake side:
CALIFORNIA, Due to the risk of wildfires Sierra Pacific Industries, which owns nearly 2 million acres of forestland in California, has closed public access into its wildlands starting July 1.
Sierra Pacific said that they normally provide public access to their wildlands for hiking, fishing, hunting and other outdoor activities.
“Despite some of the late spring rains, California is experiencing the driest conditions it has had in 1200 years,” said Andrea Howell, SPI spokesman. “To help protect our forest resources and public safety, Sierra Pacific is closing our California lands to public access and recreation.”
Sierra Pacific is citing the following reasons as to why they have closed their lands to the public:
As a fire prevention measure.
To provide for the recovery and restoration of areas impacted by wildfire.
To protect public safety, especially in active harvest areas.
To help prevent erosion of roads.
To deter illegal woodcutting.
To prevent damage to young, regenerated forest stands.
To deter illegal garbage dumping.
To prevent Christmas tree theft.
To protect sensitive research project areas and equipment. Monitoring equipment has been placed in areas where research is under way. Please do not disturb it.
Sierra Pacific said that they will continue monitoring their forests, weather conditions and other scenarios to determine when it will be safe to reopen their forests to the public.
The U.S. Forest Service has also been known to close sections of their forests to also mitigate the risk of wildfire and also allow crews to provided fuel load reduction.
So far this year the forest service has not announced any planned forest closures.
Due to the weather over the Sierra these past few days, El Dorado County has pushed back plans to use a helicopter to fly in material to be used to maintain the Rubicon Trail. The new closure dates are May 11th through May 15th. That includes the upcoming weekend of the 14th and 15th.
A photo from a previous helicopter delivery to the Rubicon Trail:
From the El Dorado County “Parks” page:
Rubicon update: Due to the upcoming weather on Sunday and Monday the maintenance project has been pushed to May 11th. Unfortunately we will need to close the Rubicon Trail through the weekend. The trail will be closed May 11th -May 15th. We are sorry for the inconvenience, and are working diligently to get this project done before Memorial Day Weekend. Thank you for your cooperation.
Here’s my problem with this change, it was not properly communicated down to the actual users that need to know this information.
El Dorado County has a Rubicon Trail page on their website. At the time of this writing, that page has absolutely no information on the change of the closure dates. In order for the users to find the closure information, users must go to the ‘Parks’ page of El Dorado County, as quoted above.
For the record, it is also not posted on the website of the one Rubicon Trail specific advocacy group, the Rubicon Trail Foundation.
Users should not have to search to learn about the current conditions of the Rubicon Trail. Major changes, such as temporary closures, and even minor pieces of information, should be sent out by the agency closing the trail, not just posted. OHV advocacy groups should latch on to those press releases and forward them to local clubs and post the information on OHV forums, let alone post them on their own website.
Every year, tens of thousands of dollars are donated to OHV advocacy groups. If those groups and agencies fail to inform you of critical information about your local trail, specifically the world-famous Rubicon Trail, are you getting your money’s worth?