El Dorado County Sheriff John D’Agostini created a new position and assigned a full-time Deputy Sheriff to patrol the Rubicon Trail 40 hours every week during the OHV season. In the past, most of the staffing for the Rubicon Trail was on overtime, and was limited by grant funds. Limited funding comes from a grant through California State Parks who also have park rangers patrolling the trail. With concerns that grant funding may diminish in the future, D’Agostini and El Dorado County District 3 Supervisor Jack Sweeney, both avid four-wheelers, worked closely to secure other sources of funding such as the Infrastructure Mitigation Fund provided by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). When finalized, the fund will provide for continued seasonal patrol staffing of two deputies and the maintenance of their equipment.
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“Four-wheelers come to the Rubicon Trail from all over the country to enjoy the beautiful Sierra Nevada,” D’Agostini said. “This full-time position will increase public education and trail safety.”
The sheriff’s Off-Highway Vehicle Patrol (OHV) Unit started in 2001 with the purchase of four All-Terrain Vehicles, and related equipment from a California State Parks OHV Grant and also with funds from Off-Highway Vehicle (Green Sticker) Registration. The primary purpose of the OHV unit is to provide patrol, education and enforcement services to users of the Rubicon Trail recreation area, and to bring the trail back to a safe, enjoyable status.
In 2007 the Sheriff’s Office purchased a Jeep Rubicon Wrangler to use for enforcement on the trail, as well as other remote areas of the county. Through several stages of build-up, the Jeep is currently well equipped for its intended purpose.
“I sincerely appreciate the efforts of the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office cooperating with the law enforcement units of the State OHV Division, California Highway Patrol and the U.S. Forest Service in providing guidance to the users of the Rubicon Trail that will make such use safe and enjoyable,” Sweeney said.
Deputy Tim Peterson was recently assigned to the OHV Unit for the summer season, which runs from May through September. He has been busy so far with over 400 citizen contacts and over 200 persons assisted. Peterson spends his entire work week patrolling the trail and maintaining his vehicle. The type of service the Jeep is subject to requires extensive maintenance and monitoring to ensure minimal breakage, expense and downtime.
Peterson works closely with other agencies that have an interest in the Rubicon Trail. Numerous clubs and organizations, such as the Rubicon Trail Foundation, coordinate efforts with law enforcement and property owners to ensure safe and continued use of the Rubicon Trail. Peterson partners directly with California State Parks law enforcement officers daily to perform patrols. Officers often camp on the trail on their work days so they can be in the area and available at all hours of the day and night.