The Board of Supervisors discussed options for addressing a Cleanup and Abatement Order (CAO) issued by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. The DOT listed three options for consideration, ranging from establishing 1.) a single defined trail, 2.) a defined trail with bypasses around the most difficult sections, and 3.) a ‘corridor’ option which would have included wide areas where specific trails might be defined. In the end, the Board of Supervisors chose the option of a single route with bypasses, which they felt provided the widest range of opportunities for public access while still addressing the CAO. Tom Celio, Director of DOT, stated that all options presented would be able to address the CAO.
This County action formally recognizes the main alignment of the Rubicon Trail and a handful of alternate routes with multiple levels of difficulty near Devil’s Postpile, Forgotten Sluice, Little Sluice, Indian Trail, and the True Old Sluice. Selecting this middle option is a balance between recognizing a single trail and recognizing every existing alternate and bypass. "In reality we lost very little" said Scott Johnston, President of the Rubicon Trail Foundation, “We are still committed to working with the County – this was a good step toward satisfying the Water Board’s CAO."
In a frustrating last-minute twist which caught the public by surprise, the Board of Supervisors also voted to reduce the size of the largest rocks in the iconic Little Sluice Box, a signature section of Rubicon Trail near Spider Lake with high technical difficulty. This controversial proposal, was put forth by Supervisor Jack Sweeney after the public comments session was closed. “I and other members of our volunteer community were blind-sided by the discussion/decision to alter Little Sluice”, said Jacquelyne Bebe Theisen, Trail Boss for the Friends of the Rubicon (FOTR). “Our volunteers deserved the opportunity to discuss the alteration of Little Sluice with the Board of Supervisors – and we will. This is not over.”
RTF and FOTR will work together to push the County Department of Transportation to lead organizations and agencies together to identify and employ non-explosive management techniques to minimize impacts at Little Sluice and still comply with the Board of Supervisors’ instructions. In the meantime, FOTR and RTF will continue to work with the County to mitigate concerns in the area by distributing WAG bags (for collecting human waste) and spill kits (for cleaning up fluids spilled by damaged vehicles); reaching out with education from the kiosks, providing roving trail patrol and mid-trail staff; and delivering internet-based education.