Sweeney defends ‘Sluice’ work
JEEPS head down the Big Sluice, the last bone-jarring challenge before arriving at Rubicon Springs. Democrat file photo by Krysten Kellum
El Dorado County Supervisor Jack Sweeney wrote the following in response to e-mails pouring in to county government offices last week. Mostly from groups and individuals who do “extreme off-roading” on certain parts of the Rubicon Trail, the form-letter like messages asked supervisors to stop work scheduled for Friday Sept. 28 on the section of the Rubicon known as Little Sluice Box.
By Supervisor James R. “Jack” Sweeney
A few years ago, large rocks were pushed and pulled into the Little Sluice by persons that wanted to create a challenging course in spite of the fact it was on a public road.
Usage in that area has created many problems that have had bad effects on the environment. Efforts to resolve those effects have included an effort to close the whole trail. Efforts to educate users and to resolve the problem appear not to have been successful as the problems persist.
The cleanup and abatement order (CAO) issued by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board April 23, 2009, cited concerns regarding the contamination in the area and required it be re-mediated.
On Jan. 26, 2010, the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors held a five-hour-long hearing which resulted in a motion that specifically contained the direction to”reduce the rocks in Little Sluice.” (See agenda item 25 legis No. 10-0049). With this action and the CAO in place, the Forest Service indicated a concern regarding the county’s authority to undertake all but the simplest of remediation and maintenance to satisfy the CAO.
The county determined to clean up the legalities by applying for an easement from the Forest Service and that easement was granted and accepted on Aug. 14. Part of the easement process was the settlement of the appeals filed in objection to the easement. During that process the reduction of the rocks in Little Sluice was brought as being necessary to obtain agreement to remove certain appeals and it was confirmed that we would fulfill the direction of Jan. 26, 2010.
The county is not going to turn the Little Sluice into a paved trail! We must eliminate the hazard rocks so that a nearly stock four-wheel drive can maneuver its way through the area without being overturned and without causing environmental damage. We will be adding some of the shot rock from the adit (nearby quarry) in an effort to avoid soil disturbance.
We cannot leave the Little Sluice in its present condition and avoid closure of the Rubicon Trail!
We appreciate everyone’s assistance and observation of good rules of the trail. May we all try to keep this trail available to all users.
Chris has written a weekly column for the Democrat for more than 20 years and has Master’s Degrees in Russian History, Psychology and Career Counseling. He has been a staff writer for a number of years and enjoys it because he "learns so much about so many things."