With the start of summer comes the beginning of another off-road season. Off-road enthusiasts from all over the country will make their way to the world famous Rubicon Trail. With the increase in use, often problems also increase. Enter the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office Off-Highway Vehicle team. In its fifteenth year on the Rubicon Trail, the OHV team is again helmed by Sergeant Bryan Brown and staffed with one full-time seasonal deputy and eight part-time deputies who work the OHV team, in addition to their usual duties. The team is funded in part by California Off-Highway Motor Vehicular Recreation Commission, California Green Sticker Fees, and SMUD. OHV deputies patrol in two, marked, Jeep Wranglers equipped with the normal complements of lights, radios, etc. that any patrol car has, in addition to, specialized equipment to deal with medical emergencies, vehicle rollovers, rugged off-road travel, and overnight stays on the trails.
Deputy Tony Broadfoot was selected this year to fill the seasonal, full-time position. He will be found with his partner, Deputy Jeremiah Hamon. The pair received advanced medical training and recently attended Wilderness First Responder School specifically designed to prepare them to provide aid during emergencies in remote areas. Deputies Broadfoot and Hamon will be supplemented by other specially trained deputies that will spend the summer roaming the trails and camping in the basin. All of the deputies assigned to the OHV team spent a weekend in April training with long time Rubicon fixture, Merlin Scott and his team.
The mission of the OHV team is to provide education to the public, maintain the family friendly atmosphere and when necessary, use enforcement to support that education. The deputies will spend their time encouraging trail users to use the trail safely and in such a way that the trail is protected from environmental damage. Alcohol tends to contribute to many of the problems encountered on the trail and for that reason, alcohol violations will be strictly enforced. It is important to note that all vehicles on the Rubicon Trail need to be currently registered or “green stickered”( designated as off-highway).
Trail patrols started the weekend of May 16, 2015 and will continue all summer. There are approximately a dozen planned events over the season to include three “jamborees” and other smaller events. Memorial Day weekend was a busy weekend with 510 persons and 204 vehicles contacted. The deputies provided assistance to four people, 2 of those were vehicle rollovers. 10 warnings were issued, but no citations or arrests. According to Sergeant Brown, the off-road community has been very receptive to the OHV team. Trail users have commented that they have returned to the Rubicon Trail after an absence because the patrols have returned the “family friendly” atmosphere. Sergeant Brown shared a story about a minor mechanical failure the OHV team experienced on the trail. When the trail users found out the deputies had a problem, rigs from all over came to offer assistance. The fact that the other trail users were willing to go out of their way to help the deputies says volumes about how the off-road community feels about the team and their efforts.
Although government agencies provide the majority of the funding for the OHV team, many sponsors have provided support through donations. The El Dorado Sheriff’s Office Off-Highway Vehicle Team would like to thank the following sponsors:
Jeep Corporation – Mark A. Smith Edition Jeep
Jeep Jamboree USA
Varozza 4×4 Outfitters
Two Guys Trail Gear
Friends of the Rubicon
Rubicon Trail Foundation
Artistic Photography by Tami
El Dorado County Parks and Recreation
For more information on Mark Smith and the history of the Rubicon Trail, check out this video on YouTube: “Dirt Every Day – Episode 39”.