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El Dorado County Transportation Department

 Please find attached my comments regarding El Dorado County’s application for placement of a restroom at Winter Camp. [Monte Hendricks - 4/5/10]


 I would like to comment on the various grants submitted by the El Dorado County Transportation Department.

Since all of the grants concern the Rubicon Trail, I will comment on all the grants as one, as well as express my appreciation for all the hard work and dedication shown by the county and county staff to the continued health and well-being of the Rubicon Trail.

For the amount and type of work that needs to be done on the trail, both to fulfill the requirements of the Clean-up and Abatement Order, and to continue the educational goals to prevent future misuse and damage to the trail, the requested amounts are reasonable and should be granted.

All the grant requests by the El Dorado County Transportation Department have my support. [Amy Granat - 4/5/10]


 My thanks to the El Dorado County (EDC) Department of Transportation (DOT) for submitting this detailed set of grants, many working in close partnership with the Eldorado National Forest (ENF).
        Project Title   Grant   Match   Total Cost
- G09-03-06-D01 Rubicon Trail Restroom at Winter Camp   $55,000 $20,000 $75,000
- G09-03-06-G02 Rubicon Trail Ground Operations - Phase 1       $428,000        $144,000        $572,000
- G09-03-06-G01 Rubicon Trail Ground Operations - Phase 2       $803,000        $282,000        $1,085,000
- G09-03-06-R01 Rubicon Trail Route Variants Restoration         $81,000 $55,000 $136,000
- G09-03-06-S01 Rubicon Trail Educational Video & Public Outreach       $73,000 $28,000 $101,000
First off, I’d like to commend the County for proposing these grants as meaningful chunks to be considered on their own merits, instead of aggregating them into a monolithic, inseparable chunk. Batching a bunch of unrelated projects together the way other agencies have done may be a practical means of submission, but it also allows just about every box to be legitimately checked on the Evaluation Criteria when they are considered in one massive chunk. This is quite an advantage for scoring – possibly an unfair advantage, when other Ground Ops grants are scored and ranked against these aggregate multi-projects. I applaud the County for taking the high road, and hope that these individual grants will be scored generously with that in mind.
 
-- DEVELOPMENT GRANT - Rubicon Trail Restroom at Winter Camp --
Installing a Restroom at Winter Camp give strong benefit to the users of the trail and protects the environment by providing a safe, sanitary means for coping with trail-side sanitation. Without question, this trail-side facility will receive steady usage by many trail users in this high-usage area near Little Sluice. Remember that while Rubicon enjoys much motorized use, today it also enjoys use by hikers, mountain-bikers, cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and other muscle-powered recreationists. Many of these users already camp and congregate in this area, and it makes good sense to provide them modern, sanitary facilities and completion of this Development Project will alleviate sanitation challenges in this area, decrease the chance of future closures, and sustaining OHV recreation on the Rubicon Trail. It will also significantly enhance the overall experience – as much as I appreciate WAG bag technology, a good ‘throne’ is the way to … uh… the way to ‘go.’
 
The grant documentation currently says, “In the past, there have been trail closures due to unmanaged human waste,” and that, “The area of Spider Lake was closed in 2004 due to sanitation issues.” Though Spider Lake was indeed closed due to concerns of POTENTIAL contamination, the tests made to verify this concern were inconclusive, and subsequently found to be similar to other high-country lakes (see attached Rubicon Trail Foundation White Paper that dispels this mythical contamination: “no real (contamination) pattern exists and that test samples were well within accepted limits”). I suggest that these statements be corrected to better reflect the facts – there is a risk of potential contamination but no proof of actual contamination.
 
I’d also like to suggest a small tweak to the Evaluation Criteria section for Question 5 – Recycled Materials, I suggest contacting the vendor and checking whether the vaults can be ordered utilizing fly-ash content concrete (this application would be perfect, since it doesn’t have the high-psi requirements that DOT normally needs for bridges). The five points for rating are IMHO worth the phone call.
 
DOT knows how to deliver this grant, having previously worked with OHMVR to successfully install a nearly-identical facility near the Loon Lake kiosk. EDC and ENF worked together on that Loon Lake kiosk to develop a Special Use Permit, and the principal difference between that project and this one is the preparatory CEQA/NEPA documentation required. Separating this element out into a Phase One allows ENF and EDC to work together on the documents/statements/permits while EDC DOT focuses on the logistics and planning of the Phase Two implementation. This is smart resource management!

ENF deserves big thanks on this Development grant, as well. This sort of inter-departmental cooperation is exactly what Rubicon needs more of!
 
-- GROUND OPERATIONS GRANT - Rubicon Trail Ground Operations - Phase 1 --
I fully support DOT’s GO Grant Application for Phase I Ground Operations:
* Creating the 2010 Maintenance Activity Plan (MAP) with the GO work related to this Phase 1 Project
* Completing a comprehensive Soil Conservation Plan (SCP) with Engineering Details and Report
* Working with the various Trail volunteer groups and DOT Maintenance Staff to review and confer on the schedule and work assignments within the 2010 MAP and SCP
* Implement the 2010 MAP and SCP, which will include, but not limited to, rock armoring, erosion control, drainage, revegetation, and trail signage on routes between Wentworth Springs Campground, the Little Sluice Box, and the Loon Lake Kiosk
* Continue the sanitation efforts on the trail (e.g. cleaning restrooms/portable toilets, purchase of cardboard commodes and wag bags)
* Continue the trash disposal services of existing dumpsters at Loon Lake and at Tahoma
* Purchase and installation of raised pavement reflectors and flexible marker posts to delineate the trail within the 2010 recognized trail location
* Complete "Record Drawing" and post maintenance operations activity and monitoring reports.
The MAP and SCP plans are critical tools that are needed to ensure continued use of the Rubicon Trail, in the time/schedule provided, focusing on the sections of trail listed. Continuing sanitation efforts, trash disposal, and trail marking is of obvious benefit, as well, keeping users on the trail and reducing their impact by ensuring that collection resources are available for their waste. The last bullet just ties together documentation for all of this activity, which can be used to substantiate continued progress toward the CVRWQB’s CAO.
 
I have a few suggestions/tweaks to make in the grant verbiage:
-  I recommend removing the following section from the Project Description – it adds little to the grant, and may serve to jaundice reviewers:
“Fore instance, as vehicles bypass “bad spots” or avoid broken or abandoned vehicles, the trail deviates more significantly from the original routes which are referred to as trail variants. Drivers looking for a more “fun” route cause additional damage, as do today’s larger and modified vehicles, making their way over the much smaller original wagon road.”
The type of vehicle is no indicator of its impact on the resource – the driver is ultimately the responsible party, and a well-driven stocker can pass without impact, just as well as a well-driven rock-buggy.
- Please provide more information on the Other-Per Diem line item in the Direct Expenses section – the size and purpose of that expense is unclear.
- I suggest that you add justification to Question 8 – Sustainable Technologies; I appreciate the CARB retrofits, but emphasizing that BMPs for signs and any barriers that require paint use low-VOC paints further strengthens the case for Sustainable Technologies.
Please re-evaluate and re-score this grant application with the above changes so that this grant application competes fairly with other grant requests.
 
EDC has solid relationships with OHV coalitions and organizations like Friends of the Rubicon, Rubicon Trail Foundation, and the California Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs has provided volunteer support for many decades. These clubs, coalitions, and organizations work tirelessly, and can help deliver the 2.5 months of volunteerism that this Ground Ops grant application identifies for this grant, which equates to 3000 hours of volunteerism (assuming a 30-day month and an 8-hour day). I hope EDC continues to maintain and improve these relationships to drive education and volunteerism, but beyond that, many hundreds more undocumented hours are devoted to the Rubicon Trail every year by OHV volunteers. I encourage the County to work even harder to formally document these hours, it will draw them closer to the volunteers and helps with the match to OHMVR. This is truly a win-win-win proposition, since it binds state and local resources together to work on the trail resources that they all value.
 
This is a big project, and a correspondingly large grant request, because it represents catch-up work that is needed to clear a backlog of maintenance, and is another step in implementing a long-term resource management maintenance and operations plan for Rubicon, with cooperation between EDC DOT, ENF, CVRWQB, and trail users. It is a pricey project, but the reward will be to further secure the ability of motorized access to continue to use the Rubicon Trail, which is well-known as the oldest premiere OHV route in the United States. This Phase 1 Project passes through the highest-usage recreational areas (as Ellis Creek, Spider Lake, and the Little Sluice area), and it makes great sense to address the trail west of Thousand Dollar Hill first. I fully support funding this grant!

-- GROUND OPERATIONS GRANT - Rubicon Trail Ground Operations - Phase 2 --
Here, as well, I fully support DOT’s GO Grant Application for Phase II Ground Operations:
* Creating the 2011 Maintenance Activity Plan (MAP) with the GO work related to this Phase 2 Project
* Completing a comprehensive Soil Conservation Plan (SCP) with Engineering Details and Report
* Working with the various Trail volunteer groups and DOT Maintenance Staff to review and confer on the schedule and work assignments within the 2010 MAP and SCP
* Implement the 2011 MAP and SCP, which will include, but not limited to, rock armoring, erosion control, drainage, revegetation, and trail signage on routes between Little Sluice and the El Dorado County/Placer County line
* Continue the sanitation efforts on the trail (e.g. cleaning restrooms/portable toilets, purchase of cardboard commodes and wag bags)
* Continue the trash disposal services of existing dumpsters at Loon Lake and at Tahoma
* Purchase and installation of raised pavement reflectors and flexible marker posts to delineate the trail within the 2010 recognized trail location
* Complete "Record Drawing" and post maintenance operations activity and monitoring reports.
The MAP and SCP plans are critical tools that are needed to ensure continued use of the Rubicon Trail, in the time/schedule provided, focusing on the sections of trail listed. Continuing sanitation efforts, trash disposal, and trail marking is of obvious benefit, as well, keeping users on the trail and reducing their impact by ensuring that collection resources are available for their waste. The last bullet just ties together documentation for all of this activity, which can be used to substantiate continued progress toward the CVRWQB’s CAO.
 
I have a few suggestions/tweaks to make in the grant verbiage on this Phase II project, much as I did for Phase I:
-  I recommend removing the following section from the Project Description – it adds little to the grant, and may serve to jaundice reviewers:
“Fore instance, as vehicles bypass “bad spots” or avoid broken or abandoned vehicles, the trail deviates more significantly from the original routes which are referred to as trail variants. Drivers looking for a more “fun” route cause additional damage, as do today’s larger and modified vehicles, making their way over the much smaller original wagon road.”
The type of vehicle is no indicator of its impact on the resource – the driver is ultimately the responsible party, and a well-driven stocker can pass without impact, just as well as a well-driven rock-buggy.
- Please provide more information on the Other-Per Diem line item in the Direct Expenses section – the size and purpose of that expense is again unclear.
- Please clarify your intention for grant-matching – it states that this will be done to a 25% level with in-lieu funds, but I suspect based on figures discussed elsewhere that the actual number is larger than 26%, and the points are worth the 1% change, whether by volunteer- or by donation-match.
- In Question 6 – Impact to Natural and Cultural Resources, there is a sentence fragment at the end of the justification explanation. Please add the rest of that section to the justification.
- I suggest that you add justification to Question 8 – Sustainable Technologies; I appreciate the CARB retrofits, but emphasizing that BMPs for signs and any barriers that require paint use low-VOC paints further strengthens the case for Sustainable Technologies.
Please re-evaluate and re-score this grant application with the above changes so that this grant application competes fairly with other grant requests.
 
The $200K match pledged for the helicopter is incredible!
 
EDC has solid relationships with OHV coalitions and organizations like Friends of the Rubicon, Rubicon Trail Foundation, and the California Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs has provided volunteer support for many decades. These clubs, coalitions, and organizations work tirelessly, and can help deliver the 2 months of volunteerism that this Ground Ops grant application identifies for this grant, which equates to 2400 hours of volunteerism (assuming a 30-day month and an 8-hour day). I hope EDC continues to maintain and improve these relationships to drive education and volunteerism, but beyond that, many hundreds more undocumented hours are devoted to the Rubicon Trail every year by OHV volunteers. I encourage the County to work even harder to formally document these hours, it will draw them closer to the volunteers and helps with the match to OHMVR. This is truly a win-win-win proposition, since it binds state and local resources together to work on the trail resources that they all value.
 
This is a big project, and a correspondingly large grant request, because it represents catch-up work that is needed to clear a backlog of maintenance, and is another step in implementing a long-term resource management maintenance and operations plan for Rubicon, with cooperation between EDC DOT, ENF, CVRWQB, and trail users. It is a pricey project, but the reward will be to further secure the ability of motorized access to continue to use the Rubicon Trail, which is well-known as the oldest premiere OHV route in the United States. This Phase II Project passes through some of the most pristine sections of the trail (Granite Slabs and Buck Island Lake), and it makes good sense to address the trail east of Thousand Dollar Hill after learning all that we can on Phase I, which is the trail west of Thousand Dollar Hill. I fully support funding this grant!

-- RESTORATION GRANT - Rubicon Trail Route Variants Restoration --
The California Conservation Corps (CCC) is a reliable resource perfectly trained for this type of work. Rubicon Trail Foundation worked with the CCC in Rubicon Springs in August, 2009, and they worked with enthusiasm and efficiency. I’d love to see volunteers assisting the CCCs, but this type of restoration work can get political, and a challenge to find volunteers, so using the CCCs is a good alternative.
 
I cannot give full blessing to this grant in its current form because it contains restoration plans for routes which are still in contention on a lawsuit between Public Lands for the People and the Eldorado National Forest, to which I am party. I’ve attached the appeals and queries that I sent to Eldorado National Forest for reference, but the lawsuit is still ongoing at this time. I could support this grant proposal better if 14N34B were wholly removed from it, and I encourage the County to do exactly that – 14N34B is a historic route that has been in use for years for which clear historical precedent exists (maps from 1916, 1937, 1950, 1974, and 1982 clearly document this road) to perfect this route as a public easement, and ‘restoring’ this route further risks the right-of-way enjoyed by the public, and especially by members of the Auburn Jeep Club. The other routes listed are of secondary importance, but 14N34B connects the Rubicon Trail to Bugle Lake and to McKinstry Lake via 14N05, and volunteers and users will lobby around this to defend access if necessary. Other volunteers are likely more interested in defending Soup Bowl and the Little Sluice Short Bypass, but my cause célèbre is re-opening 14N34B.
 
I will provide some support to this grant since it clearly emphasize that these routes will be blocked off with boulders and logs but does not state that the tread path will be obliterated or rehabilitated, or that the sides of the trail will be ripped into the path of the trail to remove the footprint of the trail. This emphasis is on blocking and monitoring to "discourage use" leaves open the option that these routes could be re-opened later,
 
I strongly support these grant requests and the spirit of cooperation and teamwork that EDC shows working with ENF, EDSO, RTF, and all other regular participants at the Rubicon Oversight Committee meeting. Friends of the Rubicon has an important role, as well, supporting volunteerism on the Rubicon. All of us working together, with the help of OHMVR’s grant funding, can retain and sustain the Rubicon Trail for future OHV’ers – but it takes cooperation and teamwork from us all. [Randy Burleson - 4/5/10]


 Everyone asking for Grant money does it with honorable intentions to manage our public lands , provide sustainable recreation and protect resources.  I agree with all of that and am not one to say "do not fund"  but there are exceptions from my point of view. 
 
In reviewing these grants for 2009/2010  It it is alarming how the % of actual work on the ground changes from one agency to another.  From experience I would like to see no more than 5% of the grant request for staff under Ground Operation go to management.   The key to sustainable recreation on our public lands are for our grant money to be spent on the ground.  
 
Every single grantee should be preaching "Stay on Designated Trail"   regardless what your job is, it is the responsibility of every person involved with OHV that this message has to pushed.
 
Every single grantee should encourage those that are law abiding citizens to put pressure on the "Willfully Ignorant" to change their way so that we can have a "Sustainable OHV recreation"  for future generations. 
 
Lastly I want to thank every single person involved in working on  OHV recreation for your time and dedication . [Ed Waldheim "OHV activist for access to public lands for all" - 3/28/10]



 The following is my comment for the OHV Grant funding request:
 
I am in full support of the installation of the restroom facility. Please include additional information on the future servicing/maintenance of the restroom.
 
Thank you for considering my comment. [Bruce Brazil 3/7/10]