In a move to enhance law enforcement on the Rubicon Trail, the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office announced that a full-time deputy has been assigned to patrol the trail 40 hours a week during the off-highway-vehicle season.
In the past, most of the sheriff's staffing for trail patrol was provided by deputies on overtime and was limited by grant funds. Concerned that grant funding might decrease in the future, Sheriff John D'Agostini and county Supervisor Jack Sweeney, both four-wheel enthusiasts, worked to secure other sources of funding, such as the Infrastructure Mitigation Fund provided by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. When finalized, the fund will provide for continued seasonal patrol by two deputies and maintenance of their vehicles, according to a Sheriff's Office news release.
The 22-mile Rubicon Trail extends from Georgetown in El Dorado County to Tahoma at Lake Tahoe in Placer County. Originally used by California Indians and settlers crossing the Sierra, it now attracts off-road-vehicle enthusiasts worldwide.
Deputy Tim Peterson (pictured) was recently assigned to the sheriff's Off Highway Vehicle Unit for the summer season, May through September. So far he has contacted more than 400 trail users and assisted more than 200, officials said. Peterson spends his entire work week patrolling the trail and maintaining his vehicle. Because his Jeep Rubicon Wrangler is subject to rugged service, officials noted that it requires extensive maintenance and monitoring to ensure minimal breakage, expense and downtime.
Peterson partners with California State Parks law enforcement officers to perform daily patrols, The officers often camp on the trail on work days so they can be available in the area at all hours.
Numerous clubs and organizations, such as the Rubicon Trail Foundation, coordinate with law enforcement and property owners to promote safe use of the trail.
The majority of injuries and accidents on the trail involve the use of alcohol, officials said, so DUI and other alcohol-related offenses are a priority for law enforcement officers on the trail. Natural resource damage, and registration and equipment violations also are targeted.
Photo courtesy El Dorado County Sheriff's Office