The popular Rubicon Trail in northern California is in the crosshairs of the state as years of waste buildup have amplified environmental problems that need to be addressed. The water quality managers from the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board have unanimously approved a cleanup and abatement order of the Rubicon Trail, and expect to see follow-up action starting this summer.

The Rubicon Trail is located in the county of El Dorado, running from Georgetown to the west shore of Lake Tahoe, and mainly running through Eldorado National Forest. Because the trail is designated as a county road and sits on Forest Service land, the state water board has ordered that both El Dorado County and the Forest Service be held responsible for the trail's cleanup efforts. OHV groups who continue to hold an interest in the trail will assist with trail maintenance, correction, and management.

The environmental concerns impacting the Rubicon Trail stem from erosion issues that lead to waterway contamination. Because of the high amounts of off-road and human activity on the mostly-unmonitored trail, petroleum products, human waste, and camping remains are washed into nearby water sources, presenting health and safety concerns. To remedy the situation, El Dorado County will start off with the installation of several erosion control measures along a 2000-ft. section of trail to prevent additional runoff. Waste packing will be encouraged for all trail users, and the county will ensure the construction of two bridges along the trail, which is slated to commence in summer 2010.

Although seasonal closures of the Rubicon Trail may seem to be an effective solution to limiting the human facet of erosion concerns, the state is not mandating such measures. A trail maintenance plan will be prepared by El Dorado County and the Forest Service by July 15, and a plan to address impacts to the trail when soils are saturated will be completed by July 1, 2010. A long-term management plan is to be completed by April 30, 2011.

To learn more about the Rubicon Trail, visit the El Dorado County website.

Source: Sierra Sun