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Partial Rubicon Closure near spider lake


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  • Partial Rubicon Closure near spider lake

    Moderator's Note:

    Please note that this is a closure to CAMPING and the closure is due
    to unsanitary conditions that are affecting water quality.

    The Friends of The Rubicon have been active for the past two years
    promoting a "Pack It Out" program as a means to help control

    For more information:

    Please pay particular attention to sanitation, water quality and your
    recreation opportunity.


    Subject: Fw: El Dorado Co. declares Public Health Emergency next to
    Rubicon Trail

    Unsanitary conditions causes Board of Supervisors to take action

    Unsanitary conditions close camping area on Rubicon trail

    Gregory Crofton
    July 14, 2004

    El Dorado County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday declared a state of local
    emergency, closing an area off the Rubicon trail to the public because of an
    accumulation of human feces.

    The area includes a couple of hundred acres around the Spider
    Lake-Little Sluice
    area, the most popular place to camp along the 14-mile trail.

    The order calls for the area to be closed for 120 days so it can be cleaned up
    to the point that it no longer presents a threat to public health
    and safety and
    the environment, said Jon Morgan, director of the El Dorado County
    Department of
    Environmental Management.

    The order takes effect immediately and is to be enforced by the El
    Dorado County
    Sheriff's Department and U.S. Forest Service. It does not shut down
    any portion
    of the Rubicon trail.

    "We had a number of reports from the public about the increasing unsanitary
    condition and we confirmed it over the weekend," said Jon Morgan, director of
    the El Dorado County Department of Environmental Management. "There is human
    feces and urine everywhere up there. Hopefully this sends a message
    and reduces
    the impact of people on nature up there."

    The trail boss for the Friends of the Rubicon, which represents more than 400
    off-road clubs from around the world, adamantly opposed the closure.

    "The government agencies involved have had three years of management
    opportunities on this trail and yet have not completed those," said Del
    Albright, trail boss for the Friends of the Rubicon and member of the county's
    Rubicon Oversight Committee. "This closure is too radical and too premature."

    The Rubicon trail, a county road, runs west to east around the
    northeast corner
    of Desolation Wilderness. It starts in the Eldorado National Forest
    at Wentworth
    Springs near Loon Lake and ends at Lake Tahoe at Homewood.

    On a busy weekend there can be 1,000 people camped within a
    half-mile of Spider
    Lake, with at least a couple of hundred camped around the lake, Albright said.

    Part of the land that surrounds Spider Lake is privately owned. The
    rest is land
    managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The landscape is granite, making it
    difficult if not impossible to dig a hole and bury human waste. The terrain is
    too treacherous to accommodate any restroom facilities.

    "This (closure) is the result of irresponsible parties," Morgan
    said. "There are
    a lot of responsible Jeepers who pack it in and pack it out."

    In 2002, the county bought $10,000 worth of portable toilets and gave them to
    people who use the Rubicon trail, according to Albright. The county also
    established the Rubicon Oversight Committee in 2001 to work on a
    master plan for
    the trail.

    "There's been no follow up by the county, the Forest Service or the Rubicon
    Oversight Committee," Albright said. "I believe before closing it the Forest
    Service should have taken the bull by the horns and developed some campsites."

    Albright said closure of the area will cause four-wheelers to camp at Buck
    Island Lake, just down the road from Spider Lake.

    "They are going to find other places; the same number of people are going to
    go," Albright said. "If these people move to the next lake, are they going to
    close that too?"

    Lester Lubetkin, a Forest Service recreation officer, said people
    need to bring
    portable toilets when they travel the Rubicon.

    "What they really need to be doing is packing out their waste," Lubetkin said.
    "Otherwise there are just so many people and they'll go to another
    spot and end
    up with the same problem in a new spot."

    - Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at

    Rich Farrington, USFS Pacific SW Region
    Phone (707) 562-8849 Fax (707) 562-9055
    1997 Jeep Wrangler