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.
My last post outlined the work done by the Lake Tahoe Basin Mangement Unit (LTBMU). On Sunday, I ran the trail down to the Springs.
Along the way, it was clear that the Tahoe National Forest (TNF) had also done extensive work on the Rubicon Trail while it was closed. Large, crushed rock had been placed in many, many low spots along the trail. But not ALL the low spots and not in a few smaller very deep holes.
Note the low spot just past the rock in the picture below, not filled in:
The official word was that the trail was closed due to extreme fire danger. But in one report, individuals working with the ‘landowners’ were allowed on to the trail and down to the Springs. Now we have evidence that workers were doing extensive work over a long period of time. And the trail was closed due to extreme fire danger. I assume all of the workers were wearing Nomex, helmets and carrying fire shelters.
This is much needed work but why close the trail to do it?
If they had reached out to the users for help, we could have provided, trailers, warm bodies and financing to accomplish MORE work in the same amount of time. But they didn’t and we still have issues:
The Forest Service (FS) does not play well with others. This is evidence of that. Why? This work was done without the knowledge of the users, without any input from the users and without assistance of the users.
Now the FS, at least the Basin, in this case does not need to inform anyone when they work on their land. But the Tahoe should be informing the others, that are part of the MOU regarding management of the Rubicon, about work to be done on the trail. Did that happen?
Should the users be involved in this communications chain? Yes. Who should be informed on the part of the users? BRC, Cal4, United 4wd, RTF, CORVA, FOTR, local clubs, certain individuals?
More than ever,
Sorry for the late notice but I just found this in my JUNK folder:
Feb. 1, 2022, NEVADA CITY, Calif. – The Tahoe National Forest will host a virtual presentation 6:30 p.m. February 10 for those interested in providing input on California OHV grant applications.
The Tahoe NF is preparing its annual application to the California Department of Parks and Recreation’s Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division. The annual application requests funding for trail and OHV facilities maintenance, law enforcement, education and safety, and OHV facility and trail planing.
The hour-long meeting will allow the public to learn more about the grant process and how to provide input.
“I encourage anyone interested in the OHV program to join in this presentation by the forest and district trail managers, and provide their ideas on these proposals,” said Trails Program Coordinator Joe Chavez.
The annual grants provide important funds for the Tahoe NF to develop and maintain trails and trailheads. This includes repairing winter storm damage, restoring trailside environments, covering patrol units, educating trail users and monitoring OHV areas.
When finalized, the grants will be available for public review and comment on the State of California’s website from March 8, 2022 to May 2, 2022.
Comments can be submitted during the meeting via the Microsoft Teams chat function, or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comments can also be mailed to the following address prior to February 24:
Joe Chavez, Forest Trails Program Coordinator
Tahoe National Forest
631 Coyote St.
Nevada City, CA, 95959
Although I was told earlier this season there would be no work done on the Rubicon within the Tahoe National Forest in 2021, rock has been placed in some of the low spots.
As I was driving out on Wednesday, just west of the turn for Sourdough Hill:
Just east of the turn to Sourdough Hill:
Not remembering where this was:
West of Miller Lake:
Another west of Miller.
There were two or three other spots that had new rock placed.
It’s good to see this work being done. Hopefully, it will continue.
Work on the rolling dips within the Lake Tahoe Basin will happen next year.
For those of you that don’t know that road, it runs from the Rubicon over to Barker Pass. It was one of the recommended reroutes around the closed staging area last week.
It’s probably twice as far to get to Lake Tahoe than the Rubicon, but it’s twice as smooth. And it just got better.
While the staging area was getting paved, Forest Road 03-04 was getting groomed. The first mile off the Rubicon was always little rough and severely rutted. But the road got progressively better the closer you got to Barker Pass. The last few miles at Barker Pass you could drive a Honda Civic down, it’s that groomed.
Back in 2016, there was water running down the trail causing erosion, allowing sediment to get in to the water system.
Hard to see, but looking back down the trail towards the Rubicon, there is one on many new rolling dips along Forest Road 03-04, so many I lost count.
Just south of the intersection of 03-04-14, looking up the trail, 2016.
Just last week, looking down the same section of trail.
Forest Road 03-04 is classified as a ‘road’ not a ‘trail’, so it is maintained at a different level then say the Buick Lake Trail. The FS got serious with 03-04 this time around. The work done on this trail will allow emergency vehicles to access more of our forests. For the Rubicon, it means we can bring in material with very large trucks much closer to the actual trail.
There are a ton of places to camp along and just off Forest Road 03-04. The most popular is Bear Lake but it’s usually crowded. Some of the other side roads have great views and are always empty of campers. You should check them out.