Control of the management and maintenance of the Placer County side of the Rubicon Trail is being decided right now. Literally, right now.
Until recently, Placer County has denied any authority over the Rubicon Trail. Lately, they have decided they want or have a hand in it but don’t want the day to day responsibility of applying for grants and to manage the maintenance of the Rubicon Trail.
Placer County and El Dorado County are currently working on an MOU (memorandum of understanding) that will allow El Dorado County the full legal authority to manage the Placer County side of the Rubicon Trail. To be clear, this will give El Dorado County authority over the entire length of the Rubicon Trail. My understanding is that they are very close to making this a done deal.
On the surface, this is a good thing. Placer has failed to apply for and receive steady grant funding and really has been hands off for years. Read as no maintenance has been done on the Placer side for years. El Dorado County has been extremely successful in getting grant money for the Rubicon Trail.
The down side is the lack of transparency. El Dorado County is currently working with Placer County, the Tahoe National Forest (TNF), the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) and who knows who else, in order to decide what maintenance gets done and when.
The Rubicon Trail Foundation (RTF) had been the representative for the users for 15 years. Lately, El Dorado County cuts ties (probably not the best term) with RTF. I’m not sure, but I’m betting that RTF is not in the room when these negotiations are being made. I do not know of any user representative that is in the room.
Worse, projects that had been on the books to take place this summer season have been cancelled. The LTBMU cancelled the installation of a new kiosk at the Tahoma staging area along with cancelling the paving of the staging area. They literally waited until the last moment to inform some of the users. Note, the funding for these two projects ahs been in the LTBMU’s control for years. The RTF had scheduled to bring in a contractor to rebuild the 28 rolling dips within the LTBMU this fall. Again, at the last moment, the project was cancelled. They didn’t tell anyone until I went asking about it.
Friends of the Rubicon (FOTR) who normally had worked closely with El Dorado County on trail maintenance projects has been dropped as a close partner and relegated to just another volunteer, ignoring their 20 year history of maintaining the Rubicon Trail.
I have been asking for information on what’s going on, where we’re going and who’s involved in making these decisions. I was told to call Vickie Sanders of El Dorado County. I replied that I didn’t want information for me but for all users. I asked that any and all information be posted for the public to view 24/7. El Dorado County and RTF have pushed back and said if you want information, call us.
El Dorado County is about to control our trail. All I’m asking for is for them to explain how that process is going to work, how they will keep the users and volunteers informed and how they will allow the users in to the decision-making process.
I don’t think I’m asking too much.
“This is the Trail. Tahoma, CA. I work here…I’m a volunteer. The story you are about to read is true. The names have been changes to protect the innocent.
On January 27th, me, Wheeler “A” and Wheeler “B”, arrived at the entrance to the Rubicon Trail. Wheeler “A” had brought a piece of commercial snow removal equipment. The objective: Remove The Berm.
The berm had gone up over the course of the winter season. It’s appeared every season for years. Dumping snow anywhere but from the lot it came from is illegal. The berm is illegal.
We thought Placer was doing it. I’d heard several second hand accounts from witnesses who saw Placer dump and pushing snow at the trailhead. Nothing first hand.
Placer denies dump or pushing snow at the entrance. We’re now thinking it’s a local snow removal contractor. We don’t need to catch him and charge him, we just want the dumping to stop. But if it doesn’t stop, we will catch him and get the county to fine him.
It was time to take action in to our own hands.
Wheeler “A” unloaded his rig and got to work. I stood on the berm, off to the side, and made sure anyone coming off the trail didn’t get a snow shower. Wheeler “B” stood in the street and talked with anyone walking by.
Wheeler “B” approached one neighbor who came out and took pictures but she ignored him and went back inside. Later, a Placer County sheriff stopped by after a complaint had been filed by someone in the area.
The sheriff had no issue about what we were doing after we explained that Placer County had given us permission to clear the entrance.
It didn’t take long before Wheeler “A” had cleared the entrance to the Rubicon Trail. We figured three hours, including travel time.
Not five minutes after heading to our rigs to leave, a stock Toyota Tacoma and F150 pulled up to the entrance. It was in 2wd and didn’t make the small rolling dip left at the entrance.
That gave me time to walk up and talk to him. I encouraged him not to try the trail without a winch and a better equipped rig. He said he wouldn’t go too far. I gave him two of my trail brochures with a map and wished him well. He put it in 4wd and headed in.
Please remember that there is no street parking this time of year.
For those of you too young to catch the wording of the intro, it’s from Dragnet, an old cop show from the 60’s. You Tube the opening scene for every show.
For years, I’ve reached out to Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery and her staff regarding the piling of snow in front of the Rubicon Trail on the Tahoma side.
At first, Placer County denied they had anything to do with the snow pile and accused local snow removal contractors. After many meetings, photos and emails, Placer admitted their plows were pushing/piling snow from that intersection in front of the Rubicon Trail.
Last year, a fieldtrip was made to the Rubicon entrance with Lindsey, Montgomery’s assistant, and John Briggs to look at the situation first hand.
At that fieldtrip, it was agreed that piling snow well to the left of the Rubicon Trail entrance was a simple, easy, no hassle, no cost solution to the problem. At a subsequent meeting, Montgomery agreed to pass along this solution to those who control the plow drivers.
Just last week, we finally got a decent dumping of snow that I ventured out to see how the plowing issue was going. I was disappointed that it was not going the way we had solved it.
Although it’s not a lot of snow, their is more snow piled between the stop sign on the left and the road signs on the right, than outside that area. Bottom line, Placer still blocking the Rubicon Trail.
So, I fired off a letter to Montgomery’s office…
This past month, I have monitored the snow conditions in Tahoma. Last week I was frustrated to find snow piled in front of the Rubicon Trail, specifically on McKinney-Rubicon Road. This situation is past being a just a nuisance or inconvenience to Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) users.
For more than three years I have tried to use the official system to voice my concerns to the supervisor about past instances of snow being piled at the Rubicon. You and I even did a fieldtrip to the site and agreed there was a simple, no cost, no hassle solution. We agreed that pushing or piling the snow from the intersection to the left of the road would keep the Rubicon clear and not be an inconvenience to the plow drivers.
Somewhere along the lines of communication, the solution we came to was dropped and never reached the drivers of the snow plows. It appears that the snow plow drivers are still intentionally piling the snow specifically on the Rubicon Trail, as the snow piles are centered on the road, not evenly spaced along the snow berm. I do not know where the breakdown occurred but it needs to be discovered and fixed.
Piling snow on a roadway is a criminal act. It needs to stop. The excess snow currently piled on the Rubicon, although minimal, needs to be removed. We have a full week of storms coming in this week. The plow drivers need to be informed that the Rubicon Trail entrance needs to be treated like any other street in that neighborhood or a driveway in that neighborhood. Although the Rubicon does not get plowed, it should not be intentionally blocked. That information needs to be passed along TODAY, not next week, not at the next supervisors meeting, not the next time the supervisor bumps in to the right department head, TODAY.
Attached are photographs of the situation I found on Thursday, January 10, 2019. Although small, it is clear that there is excess snow piled on the road, not to either side of where the Rubicon Trail starts from the residential area. In the wide view shot, you can see the difference in the snow levels. You can see the stop sign further to the left of where the road is and the old signage further to the right. In the other photos, my two snow skis outline where the road lies and off to the sides you can see less of a snow berm.
Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the next coffee day with the Supervisor. I am hoping that John Briggs will be able to attend.
Please keep me informed as to the progress of solving this situation.
Lindsey did get back to me quickly regarding my email. She said she had forwarded my email to Montgomery and the head of Public Works and that they would be discussing it yesterday afternoon. I have yet to hear back from anyone after that meeting.
With the increased ability of off highway vehicles, I will continue to fight for our year ’round access to the Rubicon Trail. It doesn’t help that people got out unequipped for the conditions.
I ventured out to the Rubicon today (3/2/2017) and found the largest wall I’ve ever seen at the entrance to the Rubicon.
The directional sign we put in last year seems to be tall enough, so far.
Looking down the last street toward the entrance to the Rubicon Trail. Notice the height of the snow on either side of the road.
But when you get to the Rubicon, the snow is now 14′ tall!
My truck is about 6′ tall. At least the Rubicon Trail sign is visible.
What concerns me are the HUGE rotary blade marks in the wall. Private snow removal guys don’t have machines that big. Only the County has those.
I’ve already fired off a letter to Placer County Supervisor Montgomery to get the County to come out with a front loader to remove snow to the point that it matches the snow loads in the rest of the neighborhood.
We’ll have to wait and see what happens.
But for now we get to wait for the storm that is going to hit Saturday night.
Spring begins March 20th!
For those of you following the saga, the past practice of Placer County piling snow at the Tahoma entrance to the Rubicon should have stopped.
Unfortunately, not everyone got the memo. This was today, 1/4/17.
Now we don’t know who piled the snow here but I’m working on it.
For the record, the Rubicon Trail doesn’t close during the winter.
If you are prepared enough and brave enough to try the Rubicon during the winter, realize there may still be issues at the trailhead this winter.
On your way in, feel free to break-down any piled snow or shovel the snow away all together. Do not throw that snow in to the street. If capable, drive over the berm.
Remember that there is no street parking from November through May. A sheriff in a bad mood may try and cite you if your rig is in the street as you work the berm. My advice is be polite and don’t fail the attitude test.
On your way out, make sure the berm has not been altered. Get out and check before driving off the edge.
On a side note, there are currently two rigs stuck on the Rubicon. A recovery team is going in on Friday to get the vehicles out. All the people are safely out.
The first rig is near Miller Lake, in a water hole, on the trail (35″ tires). Please do not go off trail to get around this vehicle.
The second vehicle is almost to Observation (40″ tires). It lost one tire off the rim. They plan on bringing out a spare, swapping it on to the rig and driving out. That rig is off to the side of the trail.