Saturday, August 16, 2014

Deer Valley 4x4 Trail

Image courtesy of 4x4TrailMaps because the "environmentalists" closed
this favorite trail of mine before I could visit with my own Jeep.
The Deer Valley Trail in Northern California's Sierra Nevada mountain range is one of my favorite backcountry OHV trails.  Designated 9N83 and 19E01, it is easy to find on any Eldorado National Forest route map since it is a 300-foot-wide corridor through the Mokolumne Wilderness AreaCalifornia Jeeper reviews the Deer Valley Trail and provides maps and photos.  NorCal TTORA's review of the trail includes lots of photos.  4x4TrailMaps has extensive information on the trail.

There are two offroad books that cover this trail, and they are great companions to keep in your Jeep.  The first is the older version of Charles A. Wells' Guide to Northern California Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails; the current version of the book unfortunately does not include the Deer Valley Trail due to its current closure.  The second book is Roger Mitchell's High Sierra SUV Trails Volume I - The East Side.  This book is not just a trail guide, but also gives valuable historical information that really enriches every trail experience.

The Deer Valley 4x4 Trail is an undeveloped route that connects California's Highway 4 and Highway 88.  Although it is not as difficult a trail as the Rubicon, it is beyond the capabilities of an unmodified 4x4.  31-inch tires should be considered the minimum.  While this route can easily be completed in a day, the beautiful and secluded campsites in the middle of the trail are very tempting; I carry with me some wonderful memories from nights camped on this trail.  Be mindful that you'll be camped amongst the bears and coyotes, so food must be stored in a bear proof container, preferably suspended high off the ground and far out on a tree branch.

Wildlife Thrives Within State OHV Parks

Ocotillo Wells SVRA

We're all accustomed to the mainstream media's typical regurgitation of the faux-environmentalist groups' anti-OHV propaganda, so it's refreshing to see a story like this one from CBS8 out of San Diego, California that shows the other side of the story.

Ocotillo Wells is Southern California's pride-and-joy State Vehicular Recreation Area.  As such, it has for years been within the faux-environmentalists' crosshairs for closure.  Scientific evidence has demonstrated to the courts exactly what this news story reveals: wildlife thrives within the OHV park.

A hidden motion-activated camera aimed at a watering hole shows the quantity and diversity of the fauna within just a small area of the OHV park.  Coyotes, badgers, foxes, jackrabbits, mice, and numerous other creatures coexist peacefully with the Jeeps and motorcycles that also call Ocotillo Wells their home.  While this balance may come as a surprise to those who rarely visit our SVRAs, appreciation for nature is one of the most rewarding things for those of us who frequent our state's OHV parks.

OHV users of all types (Jeeps, dirt bikes, dune buggies, ATVs, side-by-sides, mountain bikes) enjoy exploring the backcountry because of nature, not in spite of it; we as a group do more to preserve and protect the environment than all of the land-closure organizations put together.  We adventure through the mountains and deserts to get away from the cities and get back in touch with nature, which is why we have authorized the California State Parks to manage our eight OHV areas for present and future generations.

California's grand total of only 67,299 acres of OHV parkland pales in comparison (0.45% as much land) to the 14,944,697 acres of Wilderness within the state, so we must fight to keep every precious acre from being closed due to pressure from the anti-OHV elitists.  The faux-environmentalists won't be satisfied until every OHV park, every 10-foot-wide Jeep trail, and every 3-foot-wide motorcycle and mountain bike trail are closed and gated.  Contributing to true environmental groups such as BlueRibbon Coalition, CORVA, Cal4Wheel, and UFWDA will help ensure that public lands are preserved for the public, rather than from the public.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Helicopter Crash on the Rubicon Trail

Scene of the crashed helicopter on the Rubicon Trail
A helicopter that was providing support for the annual Jeepers Jamboree on the Rubicon Trail crashed near the trail at Buck Island Lake.  There were four people aboard, but all survived; all four walked away from the wreckage, but two were flown to the Reno, NV hospital for treatment of a head injury and a leg injury.  The El Dorado County Sheriff's Department published two press releases:
Helicopter Crash
Posted on August 1, 2014   

At approximately 1:00 pm today, the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a possible helicopter crash on the Rubicon Trail. Sheriff D’Agostini’s Deputies assigned to the trail patrol arrived on scene and verified a downed helicopter near the area of Buck Island Lake, which is approximately seven miles from Loon Lake. This area is only accessible by modified four-wheel drive vehicles, helicopters or hiking.

There does not appear to be any fatalities, only injuries. We do not have confirmation of how many people on board the helicopter. Cal Star 6 is currently on scene and assessing any injuries. The FAA has been notified. More details will be available later in the day.

Sgt. Chris Felton

UPDATE on Helicopter Crash
Posted on August 1, 2014   

El Dorado County Sheriff’s Deputies on scene verified four people on board the downed helicopter. A male with head injuries and a male with leg injuries were flown to a Reno Hospital with what appeared to be non-life threatening injuries. The other two occupants walked away from the accident. The helicopter was assisting the annual Jeepers Jamboree event this weekend.

At this time, the trail is closed and officers are standing by the wreckage. The NTSB and FAA are investigating the incident. Any questions related to the investigation should be directed to the NTSB and FAA.
Jeepers Jamboree also published their own press release:
Jeep Jamboree Official Press Release-
On friday august 1st on the Jeep Jamboree trip our contracted helicopter went down after take off from Buck Island.
There were 3 passengers that were all crew members and the pilot aboard;
everyone was able to walk away with only 2 of the passengers needing to be flown out for non-life threatening injuries. Everyone is now
in good spirits and participants are coninuing to enjoy the 36th anual Jeep jamboree.
Via satalite phone from Rubicon Spings
B.S.- President of The Jeepers & Jeep Jamboree
It's a testament to the helicopter pilot's skills that he was able to bring down the chopper without any environmental damage or loss of life.  KXTV News 10 out of Sacramento, California reported on the crash and interviewed a few Rubicon Trail users:

Reports of the crash and organization of the rescue were handled by Jeepers Jamboree's and Rubicon Trail Foundation's ham radio operators.  This incident perfectly illustrates the importance of communications, especially when deep in the backcountry.  The cellular phone service we're all accustomed to relying upon is unavailable on the Rubicon Trail.  Satellite phones and Amateur radio (ham radio) are the primary means of communication here, and the video above briefly shows the 4-wheeler's "standard issue" Yaesu FT-60R handheld VHF/UHF ham radio transceiver.  With a ham radio license (obtained through your local amateur radio club or through a class offered by the Rubicon Trail Foundation) trail users may freely access the Rubicon Repeater System to boost their 5-watt short range handheld transceiver into a long-range communications powerhouse.  Even without a repeater system, a Yaesu FT8800R mobile transceiver's 50 watts is enough power to communicate from even the most remote backcountry locations.

Citizen's Band AM radios (such as the 4-wheeler's common Midland 75-822 and Cobra 75WXST) and Family Radio Service FM walkie-talkies (such as these Midland and Motorola radio sets) have the advantage of low pricing and no requirement for an FCC radio license, but they only provide short-range vehicle-to-vehicle communications; they do not have the ability to reliably broadcast further than a mile.  CB and FRS radios are no substitute for a proper ham radio.  If you ever find yourself with a mechanical breakdown or personal injury in the backcountry, a ham radio may be your single most important survival tool.

*** 8/13/2014 UPDATE ***

The NTSB has published their preliminary report on the crash after conducting their standard investigation.  The report can be found here, the text of which is shared below.

Some additional photos of the crash site were taken by trail users:

A video of the crashed helicopter's recovery was posted on YouTube:

Some photos of the recovery have also been made available:

Jeep Wrangler: Proud to be Hated by Consumer Reports

While the automotive press (and especially those who focus on the offroad market) continue to heap praise on the Jeep Wrangler year after year, notoriously out-of-touch and unscrupulous Consumer Reports has rated the 2012 Jeep Wrangler as "the lowest-ranked model in our ratings of over 300 models."  The video review they produced demonstrates their complete dissociation from reality:

They complain about wind noise levels, yet they chose a soft-top Wrangler instead of a hard-top.  They are confused by the dash-mounted window switches and accessible door wiring loom, as if there's a better way to facilitate the Wrangler's unique lift-off doors.  They don't like the width of the Jeep's A-pillars, which provide crucial structural integrity for potential rollovers in extreme terrain.  They criticize its rocky hillclimb capability, yet they chose the most street-oriented version of the Wrangler, with street-biased tires, on slippery wet rocks, and their test driver used an idiotic foot-to-the-floor driving style to minimize traction and maximize dramatic footage.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

1968 Footage of the 16th Annual Jeepers Jamboree

1968 Jeepers Jamboree on California's Rubicon Trail

The Jeepers Jamboree's inaugural year was 1953, when Mark A. Smith helped organize a group of Army surplus Jeeps on a backcountry adventure along the Rubicon Trail.  The following video is made up of footage from the 16th annual Jeepers Jamboree in 1968, and it's clear that the tough little WW2 vintage Jeeps were still the vehicle of choice.

If you enjoy seeing historical footage of the Jamboree and would like to know more about this area's history, you owe it to yourself to pick up Rick Morris' beautiful coffee-table book entitled Rubicon Springs and The Rubicon Trail: a history.  I had the pleasure of meeting the author at Rubicon Springs during the 60th Annual Jeeper's Jamboree, and his knowledge, love, and research of the Sierra Nevada mountains' Rubicon area is second to none.

Rubicon Springs and The Rubicon Trail: a history

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Environmental Movement: A Corrupt Billion Dollar Industry

Environmentalism may be a feel-good cause, but behind the scenes our collective concern for the Earth and our generosity are being exploited by the Green Industry.  Anyone who has fought the anti-access faux-environmentalist groups knows firsthand the power and the money behind these "nonprofit" organizations, but the U.S. Senate's Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) new report entitled The Chain of Command: How a Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama’s EPA has finally revealed the extent of the corruption to the general public.  Forbes has published an in-depth article on the report, with which they introduce the controversy with the following quote:
Over the past fifty years, America’s environmental movement has grown from college kids adorning flowers to a billion dollar industry. With huge budgets to employ lobbyists, lawyers, and public relations professionals, many of America’s leading environmental non-profits are unrecognizable from their modest beginnings. What may seem like an organic, disparate movement is actually a well oiled machine that receives its funding from a handful of super rich liberal donors operating behind the anonymity of foundations and charities, according to a new report out today by the Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW).
The megarich donors whose tax-deductible contributions line the pockets of these Agenda 21 armies are merely the sparks that set off chain reactions of frivolous lawsuits against the taxpayer-funded government environmental agencies.  The Washington Free Beacon reports that by inventing countless environmental crises du jour (such as the current frog & toad debacle and the sage grouse brouhaha) these "environmental" organizations have created one of America's fastest-growing industries and what is essentially an elaborate, politically-biased money laundering operation:
The network funnels money from “charitable” foundations, often through 501(c)(3) “educational” nonprofit groups, to activist organizations that attempt to influence legislation, elections, regulatory actions, or public perception on major environmental issues.  The [Billionaire Club’s] activities are frequently shielded from public scrutiny due to their use of non-profit tax designations that do not require the public disclosure of donors.
Dan Epstein, director of Cause of Action, said the following in a public statement:
What EPW’s report shows is the environmental movement is following the very model President Obama criticized, manipulating the tax code in the process, with no repercussion from the IRS.
Yet the Senate report reveals what's described as a “green revolving door” between Obama, the EPA, and groups that frequently lobby the agency for more stringent environmental regulations.  It goes on to say:
The Committee has uncovered evidence that proves President Obama and his EPA are pivotal partners in the far-left environmental movement.  The Agency’s leadership under President Obama is closely connected with the Billionaire’s Club and their network of activists.
In support of House Bill HR4315 Endangered Species Act Reform to reduce the abuse and exploitation of the ESA, Representative Tom McClintock said the following:
The Endangered Species Act serves a great cause: to prevent the extinction of any species because of human activity.  But as Eric Hoffer warned, “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”

Unfortunately, in the last four years, the ESA has become the basis for an explosion of lawsuits seeking to force hundreds of new species listings.  Many of these suits are funded at taxpayers’ expense, which in turn require federal, state and local agencies to spend even more taxpayer money to respond.

The Washington Examiner published a similar report entitled How Endangered Species Act litigation means big money for environmental groups on the runaway abuse of the ESA.  The story outlines the ways in which our country's environmental laws are used as a moneymaking tool for the faux-environmental organizations and their corrupt attorneys.  From the report:
. . . the government literally pays people to sue it. The costs add up, too. The Interior Department paid out more than $21 million in attorneys' fees to outside groups engaged in ESA cases between 2001 and 2010, according to a 2012 Government Accountability Office study.
. . .
Environmental groups I spoke with said the rates need to be somewhat comparable to what corporate attorneys get paid for the same work. "Rates for big law partners in major cities can be insanely high (like $850/hour), and we've always tried to stay in the reasonable range," said John Buse, legal director for the Center for Biological Diversity. So charging taxpayers as much as $400 an hour is really a bargain, if you think about it.

Even in cases where the litigation is done in-house, the groups sometimes charge similar rates. "Our lawyers need to get paid for their time," said Ya-Wei Li, an attorney with Defenders of Wildlife.
. . .
You don't often get environmentalists citing Big Business' policies as a model to follow, but they will make an exception when it comes to getting money from the government.
The article goes further in depth with the problem.  From this perspective, legal victories that pro-land use organizations such as Blue Ribbon Coalition, The Trail PAC, California Association of 4WD Clubs, United Four Wheel Drive Associations, Off Road Business Association, California Off-Road Vehicle Association, Pacific Legal Foundation, and others have achieved with such miniscule legal budgets are amazing.  Many of their attorneys work pro bono.  The difference in goals between these true environmental organizations and the faux environmental organizations is clear when you look at the money involved: the pro-access organizations focus on protecting the environment and keeping public lands open to the public, while the anti-access organizations focus on wielding junk science as leverage to collect huge settlements of taxpayer dollars.  The "environmental" movement is big business, but there are still real environmentalists out there who are more concerned with fighting to preserve and protect our backcountry areas for everyone to enjoy.

The Washington Examiner has also published another article entitled The hidden persuaders of the environmental elite.  This report goes beyond Big Green's tainted money and reveals just a sliver of the rampant political corruption in environmental "non-profits" and government agencies.  From the article:
America’s environmental agenda is set by elite foundations that decide which activists get the money. And they form “affinity groups” to collude with President Obama’s bureaucracy, which funnels tax dollars to Democratic advocates to enforce that agenda.

As a mere peon to our corrupt government officials, you may be feeling helpless - but you can still make an impact!  Keep voting for politicians such as Tom McClintock who actually represent your interests, and provide some financial support to the organizations listed above who are organized and putting up a strong fight to keep public lands open to the public.