Position Statement by Rubicon Trail Foundation in regards to the Little Sluice, on Rubicon Trail in El Dorado CountyPlacerville, CA (July 30, 2009) - Little Sluice is a short section of the world-famous Rubicon Trail in El Dorado County, California that experiences heavy recreational use and uneven agency management. Recent complaints in the Rubicon Oversight Committee (ROC) have drawn specific attention to these issues, and beg a closer look at the history of this well-loved area.
In 1992, the first large boulder was rolled in to the Little Sluice. No agency action was taken in response to it or to subsequent events in Little Sluice until the County, in cooperation with the Forest Service and private property owners, closed Spider Lake in 2004. Since then, few significant agency actions have taken place, and none have adequately managed the issues related to concentrated use of the Little Sluice area. The only agency to take positive action on the Rubicon Trail has been El Dorado County Department of Transportation (DOT). The Forest Service (USFS) has failed to implement its 2008 Route Designation and has signed the area adjacent to the Sluice more than 150 feet away from the trail. This failure to address parking and related camping has allowed continued unsustainable concentrated use near Little Sluice, in spite of strong efforts such as distributing WAG bags and spill kits; installation of new vault toilets at Loon Lake; outreach from the kiosks, roving trail patrol, and mid-trail staff; and internet-based education.
Rubicon Trail Foundation (RTF) supports a full public process led by DOT to address unsustainable concentrated use near Little Sluice. Change is needed because of vegetative loss over the years (bushes), potential damage to the cypress tree, re-occurring vandalism, water shed impacts downstream, and risk of oil contamination in the Little Sluice. RTF believes that there is no single easy answer to the multiple challenges of Little Sluice and the immediate area around it and that at minimum, the following solutions must be considered:
* USFS to support NEPA processes for bathroom installations
* USFS to encourage sanitation via multiple solutions (not just personal sanitation solutions)
* EDSO and USFS to cooperate for law enforcement, with emphasis on enforcement against drinking and driving as well as prevention of off-trail travel
* Agencies to correctly place and enforce trail centerline and trail boundary signage to discourage off-trail travel
* Agencies to consider possible reroutes to mitigate environmentally untenable sections of the trail
* Agencies to plan implementation/education/enforcement to ensure that changes in one area don’t just divert impacts to other areas
* Any mitigation plan to include measures to protect the big cypress tree above Little Sluice
RTF is willing to consider any solution, up to and including reduction of rocks in Little Sluice, but believes this should not be the first or only option considered. If agencies, organizations, and volunteers can come together, RTF believes solutions can be found that require less destructive management techniques.
Overall, RTF believes that successful intervention at/near Little Sluice will require a multi-pronged effort that coordinates agencies, organizations, and volunteers. RTF welcomes the opportunity to actively work within the public process along-side other members of the public – this is a public right-of-way, and we need to work together to identify specific goals and measurable outcomes.
RTF appreciates the efforts of FOTR volunteers over the last 8 years. We know that with continued cooperative support from RTF and FOTR trail stewards, the Rubicon Trail will be an environmentally sound, viable, year-round trail accessible to the public for years to come.
The Rubicon Trail Foundation was formed in 2004. We are a federally recognized non-profit organization dedicated to enhance the future health and use of the Rubicon Trail, while ensuring responsible motorized year-round trail access. The Foundation works with individuals, clubs, organizations, and agencies to maintain and manage the trail. Our Officers and Directors represent a wide variety of Rubicon Trail OHV users, land owners, county representatives, manufacturers, and event organizers.
If you would like to help with our efforts, you may send your tax deductible donations to: Rubicon Trail Foundation PO Box 2188 Placerville, CA 95667. Paypal donations or major credit cards by calling 888-6rubicon or by signing up for a Friends of the Rubicon work party.
More information is available from the Rubicon Trail Foundation.
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