Let me start by saying that I am glad that work is finally getting done on the Rubicon Trail.
What bothers me is the complete failure to communicate.
Again, the users were not a part of the planning for this work, the users were not made aware that the work was going to take place and the users were not allowed to volunteer during this maintenance effort. Or were they?
So, the Lake Tahoe Basin Managment Unit (LTBMU) was out on the trail last week rebuilding some of the rolling dips that were put in place way back in 2000. It is my understanding that the work was funded by the Rubicon Trail Foundation (RTF), but I have not confirmed that, yet.
The photos are not the best, but I blame the sun, or the shadows. This is rolling dip (always improperly referred to as a ‘water bar’) is number one. Back in the day, 28 of these were placed to prevent water from running down the trail. Back then, each rolling dip was rock lined to prevent erosion.
Unfortunately, the LTBMU did not consult anyone before doing the work. Obviously, they know absolutely everything. They must tour the trail every spring documenting the run-off from melting snow. They must know the best building techniques to build long-lasting rolling dips. Or not.
Where to begin. Many of the rolling dips that were rebuilt, shouldn’t have been. Of the original 28, there were a good eight that should never have been placed. But Placer went overboard. So did the LTBMU.
If you drive the Middle Fork Trail up Blackwood Canyon, you’ll see some absolutely great rolling dips. They’re HUGE. But the LTBMU did not build the same rolling dips for the Rubicon. These are mostly loose river rock that will break down and not last.
Some of the drains are dug well enough to work but others are not, or worse, don’t exist.
Again, some don’t exist…
This missing rolling dip is the old 7A designation. There is a creek on the right that doesn’t quite reach the Arizona Crossing (rolling dip #8). The water will continue to flow all the way down the trail to number 7, where it will be directed off the trail.
So, I alluded to the fact that the users might have known about this work. But the more I look at the email, the topic might have been other work.
Here’s the deal, on September 27th, the Tahoe National Forest (TNF) reached out about an upcoming work party for October 9th. It was a drain building/cleaning effort. I don’t know all of the names to whom the email was sent. But Friends of the Rubicon (FOTR) received it.
I honestly don’t know if the work party ever happened. But I do know that four of the largest four-wheel drive clubs on the Tahoe end of the trail never got the word. The Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s, Tahoe Donner 4-Wheelers, Sierra Stompers and the Hills Angels never sent out an email to their members about a work party. Reno4x4.com never posted about an upcoming work party.
So, who dropped the ball?
FOTR got the word. I’m not on that email list so I only assume it went out to the list as at least one person let me know they got it.
RTF knew about the rolling dip work, if they did indeed fund it. I never saw anything on their website about it. Just looking at their website, I don’t see anything about maintenance projects. There is an FOTR page.
So, how is the typical user supposed to learn about possible project in order to make comments before the project? How is the typical supposed to learn about scheduled projects in order to help out or avoid the trail that day?
It seems like nobody sees a need to get the word out. That’s disappointing as the users should know. The users should be involved. Volunteer time can be used as matching funds for grants.
If we could only talk to each other.
This is the theme of this website but I need to promote it more often.
If you come across an obstacle you can not get over while staying on the trail, turn around and go home, do not drive off the trail to go around the obstacle. It could be a tree, a huge snow drift, a rock garden, whatever. Turn Around, Don’t Go Around!
This past Father’s Day weekend, I was out on our trails and found many, many trees down across our trails. More than a few of these trees had been driven by many vehicles.
I had my electric chainsaw with me, not to do trail work and clear trees but just in case something fell while I was in and had to get out. Well, I did as much tree clearing as the one battery I had with me would allow. I did go back the next day with a freshly charged battery and did what I could.
Here is a tree down across the Hobbit Trail (16E76). A few rigs had already driven around this tree.
This one required a snatch block to get the right angle to get the tree off the trail once cut.
I figured that would be it as at this point of the season many rigs should have driven this trail. But not too far down the same trail was another. This one was also driven around.
It could be dragged a little further to the right but it is clear of the trail.
There were more trees but I didn’t get pictures of all of them. I also left many trees across the trail that were easily driven over and not causing vehicles to go around. The tree below was on the Middle Fork Trail in Blackwood Canyon. The blue & pink tags were for an 200 mile endurance run taking place.
Again, I didn’t get all the photos, before and after, for each and every tree.
No saw required, just grab and drag. With the rig, not by hand!
I’ll contact the Forest Service to get someone out to block off the side trail created here.
Before only, this on is dangerous, so I dragged it down.
Most of that was Saturday the 18th. Long story but I had to go back in on Sunday the 19th. On the way out, I did some work on the Rubicon that I passed on doing on Saturday. This is just after the turn at Forest Road 03-04.
My Kobalt 80-volt electric saw worked wonders. Especially after putting a fresh chain on it. I was working the two smaller trees and then the bigger one, going back and forth. After cutting trees on the Hobbit Trail, I wasn’t sure how many cuts I had left. I was about two and a half cuts short of what I wanted to accomplish. From now on, if I bring the saw, I’ll bring both batteries!
If you’re headed in to the Springs, please cut this one back a few more feet. Thanks. Below is what my saw took off those three trees above before the battery was drained.
It ended up being a very productive weekend out on our trails.
There is currently a severe lack of communication among those groups, agencies and individuals with an interest in the Rubicon Trail.
I provided an extensive list of questions to El Dorado County, after Vickie Sanders offered to put together the meeting. She reached out to all of the groups and agencies involved and asked those questions but did not get responses from everyone she asked.
Below are the actual questions and answers provided by El Dorado County at the Rubicon Trail meeting two weeks ago documenting the answers to those questions, by each group/agency.
The questions are in black, the answers from the respective agency are in blue. Note that RTF and FOTR did not respond. I have learned that RTF has answers to the questions but didn’t get them to El Dorado before the meeting. They did share those answers verbally at the meeting. I have since asked for those answers to be given to El Dorado County to be able to publish all of the answers together. El Dorado has not received anything from RTF. Although FOTR does still exist, we are told, FOTR and El Dorado County are not getting along, not talking, not planning any maintenance efforts together.
Everyone involved in the Rubicon Trail, regardless of their capacity, needs to get over any and all personal differences with others and do what is best for the trail. There are multiple individuals telling me that will no longer communicate with ‘that person’ or ‘that agency’. To me, that is unprofessional and is not in the best interest of the trail.
It might step on a few toes, but I will ask the question: “What would Dennis (Mayer) Do?” We all wore the yellow wrist bands, “WWDD?”, some for years after his passing. Some of us still have a yellow band in our rigs. Dennis kept it calm and down the center, regardless of how he felt personally. We need to channel Dennis and get back to working together.
An eight-page list of things to do was recently provided to those involved with the management of the Rubicon Trail. Someone needs to take the lead and get started on working on those issues. Let’s get FOTR back to where it was when that group literally stopped the trail from getting closed in 2000. RTF needs to work with Placer and/or the Tahoe NF and the Basin to get an adopt-a-trail/rolling dip/campsite going. The TNF needs to involve users in their maintenance decisions and efforts.
Maybe we turn this around to where the users demand to adopt spots along the trail. Maybe OHV clubs need to demand a list of maintenance items for the season. Maybe the users demand that the decision-making process not only be made public, but that every decision includes the public.
Do we need a threat of closure to bring back cooperation and user involvement? If so, it’s closer than you think.
The Reno Off-Road and Motorsports Expo is happing March 23-27 at the convention center. On Saturday the 26th, there will be a meeting at 9am about everything Rubicon. Attending the meeting is free. El Dorado County is heading up the meeting. Below is a list of all of the groups and agencies that have been invited to the meeting. I do not know who has accepted the invitation or who has declined.
Questions to be asked: What maintenance is planned for the trail in 2022? Will there be an Adopt-a-Trail program for the Tahoe side? When will the staging area bathrooms open/close? Where are we with the small mud hole bypass? Where are we with the suggested larger shelf road bypass? How are parking issues at the staging area going to be solved? Can we stop or prevent future trail closures for fires well away from the trail? How do we volunteer to do trail maintenance on the Tahoe side?
That’s not my entire list of questions. If you have a specific question to ask and can’t make the meeting, let me know and I’ll add it to my list.
El Dorado County Parks & Trails
Tahoe National Forest, Truckee Ranger District
Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit
Eldorado National Forest
Placer County (ask for Peter Kraatz)
CA State Parks OHMVR Division
Rubicon Trail Foundation (RTF)
Friends of the Rubicon (FOTR)
CA Off-Road Vehicle Association (CORVA)
CA Four Wheel Drive Association (Cal-4)
NV Four Wheel Drive Association (NV-4)
- Hills Angels (Reno/Sparks)
- Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s (Tahoe)
- Tahoe Donner 4-Wheelers (Truckee)
- Sierra Stompers (Minden/Gardnerville)
I’ll be hanging out at my booth at the Expo all week. Stop by and let me know what’s on your mind.
Okay, I missed the Tahoe NF email about their open house. It was on the 10th. Here’s your opportunity to be included in the ENF open house. It’s on the 23rd:
Eldorado National Forest Virtual Open House to discuss
Off-Highway Vehicle grant applications
PLACERVILLE, Calif. – The Eldorado National Forest (ENF) is requesting public input for the California 2022 State Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) Grants and Cooperative Agreements Program application cycle. The Grants Program is an annual program that provides for off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation in the State of California by providing financial assistance to eligible agencies and organizations that develop, maintain, operate, expand, support, or contribute to well managed high-quality OHV recreation areas, roads, and trails. Also as important, the Grants Program seeks to responsibly maintain the wildlife, soils, and habitat of project areas in a manner that will sustain long-term OHV recreation.
The Forest will host a virtual open house on February 23, 2022, from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. using Microsoft Teams. The public may join the meeting using the information listed below. Current application proposals need to reflect current needs and will be informed by prior year monitoring and accomplishments, upcoming projects being planned, and disaster relief efforts following the Caldor fire. Members of the public are encouraged to come with suggestions to assist the ENF’s project development for the upcoming grant application cycle as your ideas and input are important for developing our proposals.
The ENF has been successful in being awarded grants from the OHMVR Division in previous grant cycles. The grants have helped address trail repair and clearing of downed trees on over 300 miles of OHV routes and law enforcement patrol on an additional 900 miles of native surface roads on the Forest, provided for the printing of free Motor Vehicle Use Maps, OHV campground and trailhead maintenance, as well as other planning, development, and restoration activities.
Once completed, the preliminary grant applications will be available on the OHMVR website on Tuesday, March 8, 2022, through Monday, May 2, 2022, for review and comment. To review the grant applications submitted go to http://olga.ohv.parks.ca.gov/egrams_ohmvr/user/home.aspx.
The public may provide electronic comments to the Eldorado National Forest (applicant) by e-mailing both Michelle Zuro-Kreimer at firstname.lastname@example.org and carbon copying (cc) the OHMVR Division at OHV.Grants@parks.ca.gov.
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