Yesterday, I received an email from a forest service employee boasting some great trail work on the Richardson Lake Trail up to Sourdough Hill. The only pictures he included were those of trails demolished and covered in trees and brush. I was horrified!
The series of pictures looked like this…
The next morning, I was up at 5:15am and out by 6:15am to get to the trail to see what the Forest Service had done to one of my trails.
Although the Forest Service had blocked off the last climb to the summit of Sourdough Hill, they had put in a switch back and more than a quarter mile of new trail.
For those of you who’ve never been there, here is a photo of the old route. This does not give you the idea of how steep this trail was originally. The ruts show previous wheel spinning and rain runoff causing erosion.
The old trail can be seen on the right side of the next picture, the new route goes from left to right in front of my Jeep. This reroute was warranted as the old route was a steep, loose, rocky, rutted trail that was causing erosion and was not safe as shown in the previous picture.
A better look up the trail after the switchback…
Here is another look up the blocked off ‘hill climb’…
Up from the switchback…
Back in to the trees. Note the trees cut down in order to create this new trail.
Nearing the summit. Those familiar with the trail should know the radio hut is to your left in this picture. You used to come up to the summit with the hut on your right.
The parking area is the same as before you just approach it from the bottom not the top.
Here is a shot of where the trail used to come up. (The radio hut to my left.)
Poser shot at the summit! A selfie if you count the shadow.
Views on the way down.
Hats off to the Forest Service for the reroute but I need to talk to my contact about communicating the entire story with more pictures.
The Eldorado National Forest (ENF) has finalized the decision to reopen the Deer Valley Trail. It will reopen after the a short period of time after the snow melts. This will be a scientific timeframe not one determined by the USFS.
Here is the cover letter:
Dear Interested Citizen:
As the Responsible Official, I have signed the Decision Notice/Finding of No Significant Impact (DN/FONSI) selecting Alternative 3, the modified seasonal closure, for the Deer Valley 4wd Trail Meadow Restoration and Blue Lakes/Meadow Lake Road Maintenance Environmental Assessment (EA).
Details of the Deer Valley 4wd Trail Meadow Restoration and Blue Lakes/Meadow Lake Road Maintenance Project, including the DN/FONSI, EA, and specialist reports can be found on the Eldorado National Forest website at: http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/nepa_project_exp.php?project=45439 or http://www.fs.usda.gov/projects/eldorado/landmanagement/projects. To obtain a hard copy of the DN/FONSI or EA, please contact Matt Brown, IDT Leader, 530-647-5390 or email@example.com.
The Deer Valley 4wd Trail (19E01) will be reopened immediately as conditions permit. The Blue Lakes/Meadow Lake Road (9N01) would be reopened and added back to the Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) after the corrective actions are implemented to bring routes in compliance with S&G 100. These corrective actions are anticipated to be completed in summer/fall 2017.
For additional information concerning this decision, please contact: Matt Brown, Placerville Ranger District, 4260 Eight Mile Road, Camino CA 95709, Phone: (530) 647-5390 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for taking the time to read this information and for your continued interest in the management of National Forest System lands.
/S/ Richard G. Hopson
This is the full eleven page decision:
The Eldorado National Forest has put out the following press release closing its OHV trails on December 1st, tomorrow. For us that means the Richardson Lake Trail but it applies to most all OHV trails on the ENF.
This is unfortunate as the Richardson Lake Trail is covered with snow and not susceptible to damaging the soils under the snow. Maybe in future years we can ask to have the Richardson Lake Trail remain open as an over the snow route for ‘wheeled’ OHV use.
Trails within the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) are also closed for the season but the Tahoe National Forest (TNF) has not posted any early closing yet. The trails on the TNF are scheduled to close January 1st.
Here is the email I recently received from the ENF regarding the Deer Valley Trail:
You are receiving this email to inform you that a Draft Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Deer Valley 4wd Trail Meadow Restoration and Blue Lakes/Meadow Lake Road Maintenance Project has been prepared and is available for your review. See attached cover letter.
The Draft Decision Notice and FONSI, Environmental Assessment (September 2016), and Specialist Reports can be found on the Eldorado National Forest website at: http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/nepa_project_exp.php?project=45439
This proposed decision is subject to objection pursuant to 36 CFR 218. See attached cover letter for more information on the administrative review process. The legal notice announcing the opportunity to object to the proposed decision is anticipated to be published in the Mountain Democrat on September 30, 2016.
Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you.
Matt Brown Botanist
The next step is a 45 day “objection period”. After that, Crabtree has to issue a final decision. Unfortunately, they can and will delay enough to postpone the re-opening of the trail until next season. The season officially ends Jan 1st but will most likely it will be moved up because of wet conditions.
Cover letter to object link:
So, next year, six weeks after the snow melts at the weather monitoring site, the trail will open. Historically, that will be mid-July although it could be as early as late June or as late as mid-August.
I have asked the ENF if we can perform trail maintenance this year on the approaches and departures to both creek crossings. This would allow the work to harden over winter, a common FS practice. The ENF has not replied to my emails.
So the Dept of Fish & Wildlife finally got back top the Eldorado National Forest regarding the re-opening of the Deer Valley Trail.
They agree with the ENF that the re-opening and future work “may affect, but is most likely not to adversely effect” the Lahontan Cutthroat and yellow legged frog.
Here’s the whole document:
We are not out of the woods yet.
- Rick Hobson, Amador District Ranger, will draft his “Final Decision”
- The decision will be posted/published publically
- There will be a 30 day “objection” period (not the same as comments)
- Crabtree will consider any “objection” and will draft his decision
- This decision may include things to address any “objection” such as requiring the approach/departure of the creek crossing to be completed before the trail opens. He could alter the dates of the seasonal closure.
This trail is scheduled to stay open until January 1st. That means two months from now we will be on the trail. Baring any last minute lawsuits that will eventually far short because this has already been to court.