Sunday, 14 April 2024

'Year in Review' honors volunteers, looks at watershed accomplishments

LAKEPORT – The health of Clear Lake and its surrounding landscapes is a top priority on the county and community’s agenda alike, and those efforts were celebrated at an event last week.

Volunteers were awarded for their efforts with their local watershed groups at the eighth annual “Year-Review” meeting on Jan. 29 at the Scotts Valley Women’s Clubhouse in Lakeport.

The meeting included a milestone for all parties involved with the release of drafts of the Scotts, Middle and Kelsey Creek Watershed Assessments as well as the Clear Lake Integrated Watershed Management Plan.

The clubhouse filled up quickly and Greg Dills, district manager of the East and West Lake Resource Conservation Districts, began with a PowerPoint presentation filled with interesting facts and memorable photographs of both the beauty of Lake County’s landscapes, and the abuse of it.

The assessments and many other efforts were made possible thanks to a $400,000 grant from the CALFED Watershed Committee, funded by Proposition 50, and administered by California’s Department of Water Resources, said Dills.

On the clubhouse's back wall, there was a large green felt board covered in laminated pictures of some of the cleanup efforts of volunteers. Last year they removed a dumped Pepsi-Cola vending machine; this year’s big find was a Coca-Cola vending machine.

Chuck Morse, president of the West Lake Resource Conservation District, explained how the county helped keep this assessments project alive when there was a temporary stop on the work before they got an extension on the grant. He also wanted to stress the importance of the assessments.

“What these four documents do is mark an important turning point in the process of accomplishing resource conservation, habitat restoration as well as addressing a myriad of other water issues,” said Morse. “These documents are the basis of attaining those goals.”

The evening also included the presentation of Volunteer of the Year awards, which were sponsored by the Upper Cache Creek Watershed Alliance.

Although all volunteers were thanked for their efforts, a few specific people were awarded Volunteer of the Year awards. Recipients of the awards were Ron Yoder, Robert Stark, Tom Smythe, Harry Lyons, Morse and Dills.

Each was given a plaque, engraved with their names and the watershed group they worked with during the year. It also displayed a photograph of the beautiful landscape they are helping to preserve.

A surprised Dills was elated with the award from Scotts Creek Watershed Group. After resolving a technical issue with his PowerPoint system, he continued the presentation he began earlier in the evening, explaining the importance of the watershed assessment documents.

“Having these documents enable us to qualify for grants and funding,” said Dills.

The issues discussed in each of the watershed assessments include history, geology, soils, hydrology, hill slope and stream channel geomorphology, water quality, water supply, terrestrial and aquatic wildlife habitats and species, invasive species, fire and fuel load management, social and economic setting, land use and current watershed management.

Erica Lundquist, writer and researcher on the assessment project, said there is a huge amount of information, which she is compiling and bringing to the public.

“It is a lot of detailed, broad-brush information, like sedimentation loads,” said Lundquist. “But, we don’t really know where it is coming from at a smaller level, aside from things like the Sulphur Bank Mercury Mine.”

She also is concerned about invasive plant species and informing the public on how to get rid of them.

The well-known algal bloom in the summer of 2009 is only one of many invasive species affecting the health of Clear Lake. The integrated watershed management plan reports that sediment cores show that the lake could have existed for as long as 2.5 million years, it was reported during the meeting.

As of 1986, Clear Lake is on the Clean Water Act’s list of impaired water bodies due to mercury and nutrient contents.

The assessments are one of many steps that will need to be taken in order to restore Clear Lake to the state it was in before European influence, stated the integrated watershed management plan, officials reported.

The final versions of the assessments are expected to be finished sometime in the next two weeks.

One thing concerned citizens can do is join their local watershed groups. For general information and a list of other organizations involved, please visit

E-mail Tera deVroede at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

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