Okay, I really don’t know if anyone at the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit reads my blog, but they did reopen the Rubicon just two days after my latest post.
Forest Service lifts Lake Tahoe backcountry closure early
Release Date: Oct 15, 2021
Contact(s): Public Affairs, Lisa Herron 530-721-3898
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif., Oct. 15, 2021 – The USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) Backcountry Closure Order (19-21-07), which temporarily closed Desolation Wilderness, Meiss Country and focused access corridors along the West Shore during the Caldor Fire, is lifted effective today, Oct. 15, 2021.
The Caldor Fire Emergency Closure Order (19-21-06) remains in effect through Dec. 31, 2021, for National Forest lands within and surrounding the fire perimeter. The closure order and map can be viewed on the LTBMU home page at www.fs.usda.gov/ltbmu. The public is advised that significant hazards remain within the Caldor Fire area including ongoing restoration activities, use of fire vehicles and heavy equipment, crew and aircraft activity, fire weakened trees and smoldering pockets of fuel. Please use the closure order description and map to stay out of the fire closure area. View the closure order and map at https://go.usa.gov/xM9Jy.
The following Desolation Wilderness trailheads that access south side areas within the Caldor Fire closure are still closed to public use for both overnight and day use access. Those trailheads are Rockbound, Twin Lakes, Lyons, Pyramid Creek/Horsetail Falls, Ralston, and Echo Lakes.
As a reminder, enhanced fire restrictions remain in effect for all National Forest lands in the Lake Tahoe Basin through Nov. 30, 2021. The Fire Restriction Forest Order can be viewed on the Forest Order webpage at go.usa.gov/xMXYK. Propane appliances with an on/off switch are permitted with a valid CA Campfire Permit.
In addition, closures on the Eldorado National Forest have been reduced, but many areas remain closed due to the Caldor Fire. For more information about the Eldorado National Forest, visit their website at www.fs.usda.gov/eldorado
My apologies for not realizing this sooner. It took the latest Caldor Fire Update, not including the LTBMU Back County closure, for me to get the information.
Here’ the twist. With the announcement that the LTBMU was extending the closure, the McKinney Rubicon Road was prominently mentioned in the brief heading for the closure. In the reopening press release, the McKinney Rubicon Trail is not mentioned in the preview paragraph or the main body of the order. I truly believe that the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit is anti-OHV and specifically anti-Rubicon.
The Eldorado National Forest sends of emails with OHV important information. I received an email when the Caldor closed the Eldorado and our other national forests. The LTBMU does not send out such emails. This should change. Our National Forest partners (?) should make an effort to keep the users and the general public informed. How hard would it be to notify RTF, Cl4, Blue Ribbon, local clubs? They already are part of an email group that discusses nothing but Rubicon issues. And yet they didn’t get the information out.
The Lake Tahoe Basin Management (LTBMU) Unit still has the Rubicon Trail closed until October 20th.
- The Caldor Fire is 98% contained.
- There has been rain and snow over the entire area.
- Temperatures are ranging from the 20’s to the 60’s.
- The Rubicon Trail is open in Eldorado National Forest
- The Rubicon Trail is open in the Tahoe National Forest
- There are no strong winds forecast
Why is the Rubicon still closed?
Where is the Rubicon Trail Foundation (RTF)?
- RTF’s mission statement: “To Enhance the Future Health and Use of the Rubicon Trail, while Ensuring Responsible Motorized Year-Round Access.”
Why is RTF not ensuring our “year-round access”?
Does anyone fight for the Rubicon anymore? Is this the future of the Rubicon, seasonal closures due to possible fire conditions? If someone doesn’t push back, we will lose our trail during future summers as we’ve lost it this past summer.
FYI, if you go up to check out the trail status first hand, the bathrooms at the staging area are closed.
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…
I don’t understand it, but I’m passing along the information.
Several closure documents can be found on the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) website linked below:
Here is the Rubicon specific document from the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit website. You can scroll down to the last map but I’ll help you out. OHV trails on the west shore are closed until Oct 20th!
I added the “Rubicon Trail – 14N34” name as the LTBMU probably doesn’t want to admit to closing the Rubicon. 14N34A is Noonchester Mine Road & 14N40 is the Buck Lake Trail.
Although the rest of Region 5 was opened two days early, the Basin thinks they know better and have closed the west shore, including the wilderness areas and the OHV trails.
It won’t do any good but we need to let our representative and the forest know this is not acceptable.
Call or email the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit and the Rubicon Trail Foundation, NOW!
Below is a press release from the Forest Service. All northern California forests, except the Eldorado, will open tonight at 11:59pm, 9-15-21. That’s two days earlier than the original closure order. Hat’s off to the forest service for opening earlier rather than just waiting two days.
Immediately below is a link to the El Dorado County Rubicon page stating that the Rubicon is now open within the Eldorado National Forest for day use only.
U.S. Forest Service
Eldorado National Forest
100 Forni Road
Placerville, CA 95667
For Immediate Release
September 15, 2021
Regional Hotline: 707-562-9113
Media Contact: SM.FS.MediaDeskR5@usda.gov
U.S. Forest Service Pacific West Region News Release
Eldorado National Forest Emergency Closure Continues through September 30th as USDA Forest Service Reopens Other Forests in California
** This modified version of a regional news release issued yesterday is to emphasize the separate closure order for the Eldorado National Forest which is still in effect.**
VALLEJO, Calif., — The USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region will end the regional closure order affecting most National Forests in California at 11:59 pm today — Wednesday, Sept. 15 — two days prior to the original end date of Sept. 17. This change does not apply to the emergency closure order for the Eldorado National Forest which remains in effect through September 30, 2021.
Forest-wide closures will also remain in place and will be extended until midnight on September 22nd on the Los Padres, Angeles, San Bernardino, and Cleveland National Forests in Southern California due to local weather and fire factors, as well as a temporary strain on firefighting resources supporting large fires in other areas of the state.
In addition to the four National Forests that will remain closed in Southern California, some National Forest System lands throughout the state will be closed under local closure orders in areas of ongoing wildfires to ensure public safety. The Eldorado National Forest emergency closure is due to ongoing hazards associated with the Caldor Fire. Fire restrictions also remain in place across all National Forests in California to prevent new fire starts. Please refer to the local National Forest that you plan to visit to obtain specific information on closures and restrictions.
“We are constantly evaluating weather and fire conditions in California, as well as regional and national firefighting resources available to us so that we can ensure the safety of the public and our firefighters,” said Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien. “Some factors are more favorable now, which is why I decided to end the regional closure order. I want to thank the public and our partners for their patience and understanding during these challenging times.”
Factors leading to this decision include:
- Anticipated increase of firefighting resource availability to California due to fire danger lessening in other areas of the country.
- Regional weather systems and related climate zones becoming more variable as the seasons change, leading to less uniform conditions across California. Where weather and fire danger remain high, tailored fire restrictions and closures remain in place locally and may be added where necessary.
- Peak summer visitation has tapered off significantly since the Labor Day holiday weekend. The public is a critical partner in mitigating risk and recreating responsibly on our National Forests.
- We recognize the important role of National Forests to peoples’ livelihood and quality of life.
Favorable fire conditions remain throughout many parts of the state, and the public’s role in recreating responsibly has never been more important. We remind visitors to practice self-sufficiency during visits to National Forests, be aware of fire conditions in the area you are visiting and follow guidelines to prevent human-caused fire starts. Best practices include:
• Heed local information regarding trails and campgrounds, especially fire restrictions
and closures. Generally, camp stoves with a shutoff valve will be allowed.
• Be proactive in your thinking about preventing fire starts. Smoking, parking in grass, flammable material, and other activities could cause fire ignition under dry conditions.
• COVID-19 remains a concern. Maintain at least six feet distance from others.
• Do not gather in groups and please follow the latest guidance from officials.
• Communicate with others as you pass. Alert trail users of your presence and step
aside to let others pass.
• Pack out your trash and leave with everything you bring in and use.
• All services may not be available, so please plan accordingly.
More than 7,404 wildfires have burned over 2.25 million acres across all jurisdictions in California. The nation remains at Preparedness Level 5 (PL5); the Northern California Geographic Area is at PL5, and the Southern California Geographic Area has moved up to PL4.
The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest is largely in California but is in the Intermountain Region (R4) and is not impacted by the previous closure order.
The Forest Service thanks our partners and the public for their cooperation and understanding. Citizens with specific questions within their area should consult their local forest website or social media pages for more information.
The U.S.D.A Forest Service is an equal opportunity employer. The mission of the Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.
So what does this mean? It means you can drive the Rubicon within the Eldorado but you can’t go outside the 50′ easement. They don’t want anyone camping on the easement hence the day use only.
The Tahoe side will be open, both the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit and the Tahoe National Forest.
My understanding is that the Springs was closed down for winter when they pulled out due to the fire. There is probably more to be done to close up for the winter. Please respect the private property.