County’s Rubicon Trail video educates users, features locals
After years of trying, El Dorado County has found a way to approach and implement best practices for off-roading on the Rubicon Trail without the rough-and-tumble rejection of the 4×4 community. The county recently released an educational and promotional video titled “Rubicon Trail: It’s In Your Hands,” which aims to make people aware of the four S’s: safety, spills, sediment and sanitation.
“I think that if the users learn it on our trail and use it everywhere they go, the environment will be much better off,” said Vickie Sanders, an El Dorado County administrative technician who spearheaded the video.
Todd Stanley, an award-winning producer for the Deadliest Catch and Cool, Calif. resident, was contracted to make the video while a cast of local offroaders volunteered their time to star in it. The video has been watched hundreds of times online and Sanders has received dozens of phone calls requesting the use of the video everywhere from classrooms to county fairs.
“I think the effort from the county to use local volunteers that actually use the trail was a great idea and will reach out to all types of OHV people,” said Scott Johnston, president of the Rubicon Trail Foundation, who’s featured in the video.
Linked by shots of Jeep rockcrawlers easing their wide tires over granite boulders, the 15-minute film centers around the four S’s. Using a dated character named Tom, played by Friends of the Rubicon member Tom Hadden, the video first shows viewers what not to do in each of the categories before launching into proper trail etiquette with narrator and 4×4 enthusiast Tim Green.
“I didn’t want it to come across as a government piece because it wouldn’t be well received by the users,” Sanders said.
Each section of the four S’s is tied to a colored logo bandana and sticker that El Dorado County will give away on the trail. The bandanas and stickers are meant to be shown off on 4×4 rigs in order to start conversation or show that the driver is aware of the Rubicon’s best practices.
Each year the county will release one new bandana: the blue bandana for spills will be released this year. The yellow ‘sanitation’ bandana was released last year and has caused quite a stir, Sanders said. The vibrant piece of cloth reads, “Eradicate the white flowers on the Rubicon Trail,” white flowers being a euphemism for discarded toilet paper.
“I had environmentalists calling me asking, “Why are you killing the white flowers on the Rubicon Trail?” she said. “It was the perfect way to broach the subject.”
Rubicon trailer user Ryan Mohondro has the bandana tied to the cage of his offroad vehicle. It gets a lot of attention, he said.
“Everyone who hops in asks what’s up with the yellow bandana? I feel kind of proud to explain it to them,” Mohondro wrote in the online 4×4 forum Pirate4x4.com.
The video cost more than $90,000 to make. It was funded by a $73,000 grant from the California off-highway vehicle trust fund and matching funds from El Dorado County.
Sanders said she hopes the video will help repair the image of Rubicon offroaders, a group she’s been working with since the Rubicon project was handed to her in 2001 while she was at the El Dorado County Parks and Recreation Department. In 2009 the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Board issued a cleanup and abatement order that forced El Dorado County to make an effort to enforce rules, educate users and prevent sanitation issues, erosion and spills on the trail.
“It seems like we’re constantly on defense,” Sanders said. “I hope this video puts us out in front.”
Del Albright, who founded Friends of the Rubicon in 2001, agreed.
“This series of videos does a great job of giving a real message about what the trail means and how we are working to preserve it for future use for all,” he said.