2022 Rubicon Trail Annual Report

I’ll try this two different ways; first here’s a link to the report on the El Dorado County website:

Here’s version two, trying to implant the actual file here:

Yes, this is El Dorado County, not the Tahoe side. I’m putting this up for general information and as an example of what may happen after the formation of the Rubicon Trail Collaborative Council. Hopefully, after the RTCC gets going, this type of report will be available for the entire length of the Rubicon Trail.

My take-aways are for one, the Adopt-A-Trail program. There are two segments available for adoption. Hopefully, this same type of Adopt-A-Trail and Adopt-A-Waterbar (rolling dip) will come to the Tahoe side. Start thinking about which segment your club would like to adopt!

Second is the list of projects. It seems like a very short list. That’s good because that means things are being taken care of within El Dorado. I literally have a list, with short descriptions of each project, that is eight pages long for the Tahoe side.

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Rubicon Ronin


Rubicon Trail Collaborative Council (RTCC)

On Monday, February 13th, a public meeting was held at the Cal4 office in Sacramento. There were probably 20 people in the room and just as many on Zoom. The topic was a new way to get more user input regarding the management and maintenance of the Rubicon Trail.

Amy Granat (CORVA & Tread Lightly) and Roger Salazar (OHMVR Commissioner & CORVA/Cal4 life member) presented a new idea for managing the Rubicon Trail: the Rubicon Trail Collaborative Council.

The idea is to build off the example of the Rubicon Oversight Committee (formerly held by El Dorado County). This new group would bring together the users and get the users a seat at the big table along-side of the governing agencies that currently manage the Rubicon Trail.

The establishment of this new group goes along with the establishment of a new Rubicon Trail management process. The idea is to manage the Rubicon Trail as one trail from Wentworth Springs to Lake Tahoe. This could (and should) include the Ellis Creek Intertie. One of the bigger changes is the Forest Service (FS) will be represented by Region-5; that’s the FS headquarters in Vallejo, CA. The individual forests (El Dorado National Forest ENF, Tahoe National Forest TNF & Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit LTBMU) will not each have a seat at the new table.

The new ‘table’ will have El Dorado County, Placer County, US Forest Service, Ca State Parks OHMVR and the new Rubicon Trail Collaborative Council (RTCC).

The current MOUs between ENF, TNF, LTBMU, ElDo Co, Placer Co, CA St Parks and various law enforcement agencies will be amended to include RTCC and to establish a consistency in management and maintenance across the trail.

The make-up of the Rubicon Trail Coordinating Council will include five types of stakeholders: landowners, businesses, state OHV organizations, trail management ‘non-government organizations’ (NGOs) and OHV clubs. Each category will have two seats. It will be up to each category to determine their representatives. (That will be fun.)

The Rubicon Trail Collaborative Council will be housed as a non-profit under the CA Outdoor Recreation Foundation, which will also act as facilitators and representatives for RTCC. Amy & Roger will be those facilitators and representatives for the RTCC board.

If you are wondering if this will ever actually happen, I believe that it will. Amy stated that the larger agencies have already agreed to the idea, verbally, not yet in writing. The hard part is amending the current MOUs to get everyone to agree to the new wording. Again, those large government agencies have already agreed on the idea.

Similar agreements are already in place for other types of recreation and trails. In our world, The Dusy-Ersham Trail has a multi-MOU agreement and the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) has a very similar agreement with all of the forests and counties that it crosses. Nothing on the PCT gets done without user input and approval.

This new management agreement will lift the decisions above any one agency, group or individual.

Moving forward, there is a plan to hold an organizational meeting of the RTCC this month. This meeting will probably include the first set of discussions about who will represent each of the five groups within RTCC.

Helpful links:

Roger Salazar – https://ohv.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=22606#salazar

Amy Granat – https://corva.org/board_of_directors; https://treadlightly.org/meet-the-team/board-of-directors/

California Outdoor Recreation Foundation – https://outdoorrecreationfoundation.org/

If you didn’t catch it, Amy & Roger will be the two user representatives at the new ‘big table’. The RTCC will provide them with guidance to follow as they talk with the ‘agencies’.

This new management arrangement should prevent illegal or unnecessary closures of the Rubicon Trail due to wildfires 20 miles away, because of possible snow fall heading toward the trail or any other arbitrary situation that may arise.

I’m extremely hopeful.

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Rubicon Ronin


Doesn’t Play Well With Others…

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.

More dips…

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.

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Rubicon Ronin


Turn Around, Don’t Go Around!

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.

Before only…

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.

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Rubicon Ronin


Rubicon Trail Q&As, WWDD?

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.

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Rubicon Ronin