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.
Rather than re-post the minutes, I’m just going to post a link to the RTF Blog page. Check out the rest of the website while you’re there.
These meetings have been going on for years. More recently, Vickie Sanders, of El Dorado County Parks, has varied the meeting times so more people can attend. She has even moved the meeting locations so those out of the Placerville area can more easily attend.
Hopefully more meetings will be held in the South Lake Tahoe area (she’s already held some there). Tahoe City should be also be considered. This March 28th, there will be a meeting prior to the opening of the Reno Off-Road Motorsports Expo about all things Rubicon at the Reno Convention Center.
Below is a link to the annual report put out by El Dorado County. Vickie Sanders has been at this for some time and has her act together as seen in this report.
Most of the items refer to the El Dorado County side of the trail but there are a few items about the Placer side. This will become more important in 2020 as the Placer side will be receiving more attention.
If you have any questions about this report or things going on on the El Dorado side of the trail contact Vickie Sanders. Vickie will be attending and speaking at the Rubicon Meeting I’m putting together for Saturday March 28th at 9am. It will be held at the Reno convention center the hour before the Reno Motorsports Expo opens at 10am.
The goal of the meeting is to let the users and volunteers know what will be happening on the Placer side of the Rubicon in 2020 and to answer any Rubicon related questions you may have. John Groom of the Tahoe National Forest should be there as well.
Bring your questions!
In my last post, I really laid in to the Tahoe National Forest. I was not alone in my position. Those who held similar views gathered with me at the TNF offices this morning to converse with Joe Chavez.
It was a full room:
Joe Chavez – TNF head ranger
John Brokaw – TNF Truckee district OHV guy
Will Harris – TNF Archeologist / surveyor
Jack Sweeney – former El Dorado County Superviser
Bob Sweeney – President Jeepers Jamboree
Vickie Sanders – El Dorado County Parks & Trails
Justin (missed his last name) – El Dorado County Parks & Trails
Doug Barr – Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s Vice President
Callan McLaughlin – CA State Parks OHMVR
Brian Robertson – CA State Parks OHMVR
To their credit, the TNF acknowledged that they could have done a better job at reaching out to all the groups that have an interest in the maintenance of the Rubicon Trail.
Many expressed concerns over the dirt work done very late in the season. The TNF pushed back on this a few times noting they do it elsewhere and that a snow storm was coming in to harden the lose dirt berms and prevent erosion.
I think it was determined that such dirt work would not be done so late in the year due to proper planning and scheduling.
At the end of the day, I think everyone agreed that a better communications system needs to be in place moving forward. All agencies and groups will be in the loop. Formal open house meetings will take place prior to doing any work.
Hopefully, public meetings will take place to include the public in the planning process. We should be able to bring our concerns and thoughts about maintenance to the agencies responsible for getting it done.
One of the more surprising moments was when Jack Sweeney laid out the process that El Dorado County used to get an easement from the Forest Service. He said they stopped at the Placer County line only because they could not work in Placer County but that the argument for an easement within El Dorado carried through Placer County all the way to Lake Tahoe.
The other thing I learned was that there is a second document to follow the MOU. This second document should clear up the details as the MOU was very vague.
Concerns linger about who can and should write grants for the Rubicon Trail. The CA State Parks OHMVR Division recognizes that an agency can write a grant for the entire length of the trail. But, no two agencies can write a grant for the same section of OHV trail. So the El Dorado County and the TNF can not BOTH write grants for the same section of trail. All of the agencies will need to coordinate their grant requests so they don’t all get thrown out.
It was a good start at laying the ground work for getting all the agencies together, on the same page for future maintenance.
Tomorrow, there is a meeting with Placer County at the eastern trailhead to discuss the snow berm, illegal snow dumping and how Placer’s plowing adds to that berm.
Here we go..
Last week, El Dorado County voted to approve an MOU regarding maintenance and management of the Rubicon Trail. The Tahoe National Forest also signed on. I do not know the date the TNF signed on.
In that Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), all the agencies agreed to:
A. Coordinate in the planning and management related to the Rubicon Trail.
B. Coordinate efforts to provide maintenance, interpretive, educational, and outreach programs with consistent messaging to the public and recreational users on the Rubicon Trail.
On Monday, just days after this MOU was signed, Joe Chavez, of the Tahoe National Forest, contracted a Spider Excavator to go out to Cadillac Hill to perform trail maintenance.
The Tahoe National Forest did not coordinate their planning with the other agencies in the MOU. The TNF did not coordinate that maintenance and did not do outreach to the public before starting this work.
Days in to this agreement and Joe Chavez, the head of the TNF is already breaking the rules!
Even thought Joe Chavez asked for and was given my contact information to get my input or cooperation, he never contacted me about this work. Fortunately, I was made aware of the work and decided to show up and watch the “show” as this is an extraordinary piece of equipment. Bob Sweeney of Jeepers Jamboree was also on hand Monday.
The work started just above Morris Rock as there wasn’t time to get the equipment down to the ‘swamp’ area west of Miller Creek. And that’s a good thing. Here’s the before shot:
The TNF directed the Spider to dig up hardened dirt to create a loose dirt berm to prevent erosion. Bob and I were not on board with what the TNF was doing.
Unfortunately, the work done I in the shade and hard to see, but it’s a berm of loose dirt that will get pushed down the trail with vehicle traffic and rainfall/snowmelt.
Although the lower creek crossing was deepened, the berm was not hardened.
Loose rock was placed at the upper hairpin and a drain was created off to the lower left of the photo. This material will end up down the trail, maybe all the way to the lower creek crossing.
This was typical of the rolling dips installed by the FS. I was able to talk Joe out of a few of these claiming there wasn’t a lot of running water on the trail. But he snuck in an extra in a few places he hadn’t planned.
If I weren’t there, the FS would have started moving the boulders around above this creek crossing! The crossing was deepened. The two logs were left in place below that dirt berm so even if the soil washes away, the logs will stay.
Another rolling dip/drain with loose soil.
You can see another rolling dip in the far distance. Joe is shown rolling a rock off the trail. A side trail was obliterated here (before I showed up Tuesday morning) as Joe wants to eliminate all side trails. I was able to talk him out of obliterating several longer sections but he wants to revisit those closings in the spring.
This rock was sticking up out (about a foot) of the middle of the trail enough to scare drivers to go around it, thus widening the trail. Joe wants to narrow the trail where he can. He left a hole in the middle of the trail that will grow and grow.
Some good work was done. The Spider moved around and half way buried a few of the larger rocks here to harden this section and to make it more appealing to users. I think the go around will stay but I know Joe doesn’t like it.
A decent place for a rolling dip but again loose soil and not hardened. Below Observation.
The before just west of Barker Meadow OHV Trail and east of Hummer Bend, looking east:
Looking west after blocking the very short side trail.
I was able to talk Joe in to 4-5 drains to get standing spring water off the trail. He was unaware of these issues on the Placer side. So there were some wins.
Potato Patch, before. The plan was to make this step a little easier, moving some of the stray boulders out of the center and create a ramp:
I think it worked pretty well but it won’t hold for more than 100 rigs. More rock needs to be placed to lock in the larger boulders.
The before on the hard line at Potato Patch. Many DEEP holes:
Some of the boulder from the ‘center’ were place in the holes of this section. It’s better. At least doable by more built rigs but will need more work in the spring.
That was the last work done by the spider. I skipped over many, many more things it did: questionable rolling dips, closures and really good drainages.
Obviously, we had a little snow moving in on us around noon.
Not all of the agencies are on board with this work. There will be some heated discussions moving forward regarding what gets done, how it’s decided and who leads the charge.
I will do everything I can to get in to those rooms and I will keep you informed.
Rubicon Ronin, aka Doug Barr