Sunday, January 13, 2008

Old & New Trail Usage

The struggle between using a natural resource how traditionalists have always used it and how new users want to use it is a perennial struggle, but one that can be resolved through continual planning and reframing the dialogue between the users and administrators of a natural resource.

This is also true in the Parkway, where traditional users struggle with newer, as the traditional pedestrian user of the Parkway trail lost out to the newer bike rider user.

The solution here, as it may be on the Rubicon, is to have two trails, one for bike riders (extreme off-roaders) and one for pedestrians (traditional off-roaders).

Overuse threatens off-road trail
By Matt Weiser -
Published 12:00 am PST Sunday, January 13, 2008

For a century, the Rubicon Trail has offered unlimited access to the most challenging off-road driving on Earth. But the boulder-strewn detour to Lake Tahoe is falling victim to its own fame.

Overcrowding and highly modified vehicles are threatening the fragile Sierra surroundings. Instead of a remote driving challenge, the 60-mile on- and off-road trail from Georgetown to Tahoma in recent years is more like a nonstop wagon train of four-wheelers teetering over house-sized boulders.

Where families once tiptoed through in Jeeps for a weekend of camping, they now share the trail with gearheads driving custom rock-crawlers assembled with costly modern suspension technology.

The past decade has seen worsening trail erosion, water contamination, unauthorized shortcutting through meadows, pollution from oil spills and human waste, drunken driving and other illegal and inconsiderate behavior.

"There are law enforcement problems. There are sanitation problems," said Dan Mainwaring, president of Jeepers Jamboree, the famous annual Rubicon tour founded by his father in 1952. "The biggest problem is people who get off the trail and terrorize the trail. They're running over trees, tearing over grass. We need to clean that up."

El Dorado County controls the majority of the trail and is preparing a first-ever management plan for its portion of the route. The Board of Supervisors is expected to adopt a final version this summer.

The plan has been hotly contested by trail users, environmentalists and other forest recreation groups. It also has exposed a rift between old-time Jeepers and a new generation of "extreme" off-roaders.