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.
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!
Okay, after the downer news of the lack of paperwork between agencies in my last post, I’m now happy to report some great news.
The bathrooms at the Tahoma staging area have not yet opened. I put it to all of the agencies and organizations who have anything to do with the Rubicon to come up with a solution. I offered several solutions.
The line from the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) was that they had not yet hired their seasonal staff who normally perform bathroom duties. My counter was that the users except the toilets as the bathrooms on the other side are open and the toilets ON the trail are open, both El Dorado County controlled. If the users can’t use the toilets, they will do their thing in the woods.
On Friday the 12th, the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit will contract with an outside company to service and open the two pit toilets at the Tahoma staging area. The contractor will continue to service the toilets every Friday unit such time that the LTBMU seasonal staff is in place to take over the duties.
Thank you to the LTBMU for getting this done!
Hopefully, we can work with the LTBMU in the future to utilize either this contractor or volunteers or a combination of both, in order to open the toilets as soon as users can get to the staging area towing their trail rig.
I know you guys like photos so here are some Rubicon toilet photos:
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:
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.