Black ties and boots were plentiful at the Rubicon Trail Foundation’s fourth annual dinner and auction. The event helps raise funds for the foundation’s operations.
On hand to help with the celebration was Congressman Tom McClintock who discussed the need to maintain public access to lands owned by the government and to get more of a public service attitude back into the U.S. Forest Service.
McClintock said that it was necessary to remind the Forest Service that “it’s their job to serve the public, not to run them.” He said the mission and purpose of the agency has changed from one of welcoming public to use the land to “restoring America to some pristine condition.”
McClintock urged people to be part of the debate about the direction of the country. “On the future of that debate will be decided if our liberties are preserved or we fade into history as another totalitarian state. The fate of our country is being decided, but the radical left doesn’t want a debate. We’ve all heard that the science is settled. But science welcomes debate and dispassionate data.”
As part of his remarks, McClintock was asked to give a special award to Merlin Scott, a member of the Rubicon Trail Foundation. Scott owns a cabin on the trail and has been going up there every summer for 25 years. He was recognized for all the educational outreach he has done on behalf of maintaining the Rubicon Trail for public use
According to John Arenz, vice president for the foundation, the organization has existed since 2004 and operates in both El Dorado and Placer counties. The foundation is involved in fund-raising, advocacy for the trail and political activism.
Originally the Rubicon Trail, which picks up near Airport Flat Campground and ends just above McKinney Lake, was an old Indian trading route. Europeans discovered it in the late 1840s and began using it as well. It was a wagon road to the Hunsacker Ranch and spring water bottling operation, which in 1888 was sold to Sierra Nevada Phillips, who built a two-story hotel at Rubicon Springs. Automobiles started coming to the hotel in 1908. The 17-mile trail is now open to hikers, bikers, horse riders and motorized vehicles.
Arenz said there is an ongoing fight over whether off-road vehicles should be able to use the trail. He said the foundation and its members fight to keep the trail open and accessible to everyone as long as no environmental damage is done.
Arenz said that since the foundation has been in operation it has raised about a half million dollars from fundraising events like Saturday’s dinner. The money goes towards meals, tools, and materials used by volunteers working to maintain the trail as well as towards advocacy. They have also used funds they have raised to purchase 317 acres to set up camps along the trail. According to Arenz 6,000 to 7,000 people use the trail annually.