Tuesday, 23 July 2024


LAKEPORT – Sheriff's officials are continuing to search for clues to the whereabouts of a Lakeport man who went missing earlier this month shortly before he was due to turn himself in to serve a jail sentence.

William Michael Farrell, 49, was reportedly last seen leaving Konocti Vista Casino Resort Marina in an older wooden boat on March 7, as Lake County News has reported.

On Wednesday Sgt. Dennis Ostini on the Lake County Sheriff's Marine Patrol said there still was no sign of Farrell.

“I'm checking daily some of the places where I can only guess he may surface,” Ostini said.

On March 10, the Sheriff’s Marine Patrol found Farrell's boat capsized and submerged about 400 feet off of Buckingham Peninsula.

Investigators found no obvious signs of a collision or other damage to the boat, which was reportedly more than 50 years old and is believed to have had a leak. Farrell's girlfriend also told investigators that the boat's outboard motor had a history of mechanical problems.

In examining the boat, Marine Patrol concluded it could easily have been swamped by the lake's windy conditions on March 7, officials reported.

Farrell had been scheduled to turn himself in at the Lake County Jail on Wednesday, according to attorney Stephen Carter, who represented Farrell in a welfare fraud case, for which he was sentenced Feb. 8.

Carter said he was able to get Farrell felony probation rather than prison, and his sentence included 200 days of jail time, with 37 days of credit served, and Farrell only required to serve half time, or about 80 days in all.

In addition, Farrell was required to repay $3,174 in restitution. Carter said he already had made some payments.

Sheriff's Capt. Rob Howe said they were aware of Farrell's court case.

He said the sheriff's office assigned a detective to follow up on Farrell's disappearance and continue to investigate it as a missing person's case.

Farrell is described as a white male adult, 5 feet 8 inches tall, 185 pounds, with brown hair, blue eyes, a goatee-style beard, tattoos on both forearms, and a significant surgical scar at the center of his chest and abdomen.

Officials didn't have information on what he was wearing when he left the casino March 7.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

LAKEPORT – If you've been noticing a lot of rocks coming off a stretch of Highway 29 north of Lakeport, you're not alone.

For more than a month local residents have been reporting rocks flying off of Highway 29 – from about the Highway 175 turnoff to the Hopland Grade and as far north as Hill Road – which has resulted in damaged windshields and dents on vehicles.

As a result Caltrans is reporting that it's planning a repaving project to fix the damaged roadway.

Agency spokesman Phil Frisbie said they've received calls from the public about the roadway's condition.

Frisbie said the cooler weather caused the top layer of asphalt to deteriorate, resulting in the flying rocks.

Last week Caltrans secured funding for an emergency paving project, Frisbie said.

They've been allocated about $4 million from a special fund that's used each year to address unforeseen problems with roads, he explained.

“We're planning on repaving approximately eight miles of the highway near Lakeport,” he said. “That should be happening this spring or summer.”

They're moving forward with preparing the project's specifications, which Frisbie said will allow them to put the project out to bid.

The funds are allowing Caltrans to move forward quickly on the project, which Frisbie said normally would take several years to complete.

In the mean time, they've stepped up their highway sweeping schedule, with maintenance crews trying to sweep the highways about twice a week, Frisbie said.

Crews were in evidence along that stretch of highway last week.

“Our phone calls have been decreasing since our maintenance people have been out there,” he said.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

THE GEYSERS – Another moderate-sized earthquake occurred in The Geysers on Monday morning, less than 24 hours after a similarly sized quake was reported.

The 3.0-magnitude quake occurred at 6:27 a.m. at a depth of 1.7 miles near The Geysers geothermal steamfield, according to the US Geological Survey.

The quake was centered two miles north northwest of The Geysers, six miles west southwest of Cobb and eight miles west northwest of Anderson Springs, the US Geological Survey reported.

The survey received no shake reports on the earthquake.

The Geysers area last experienced a 3.0-magnitude quake last Wednesday, as Lake County News has reported. A Sunday morning quake initially reported as 3.0 in magnitude later was downgraded to 2.9.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

UKIAH – Two young Ukiah men were arrested Wednesday after they allegedly took part in stabbing two other Ukiah residents during a fight.

Ryan Raya, 21, and Gabriel Hernandez, 19, were arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, attempted robbery and participating in a criminal street gang, according to a report from Capt. Kurt Smallcomb of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies, with the assistance of Ukiah Police officers, were dispatched to the 2100 block of South State Street in Ukiah at 9 p.m. Tuesday regarding a multiple stabbing incident, Smallcomb said.

Deputies arrived on scene along with medical personnel to learn that the first victim, a 23-year-old identified as “Alejandro,” had received a stab wound to his lower abdomen, while 19-year-old “Armando” was stabbed in the legs, according to the report.

Smallcomb said officers learned that the two victims had been outside an apartment in the 175 block of Laws Avenue when they were confronted by the listed suspects.

The suspects advised the two victims they were “Norteno” – referring to themselves as gang members – and demanded money from the victims. The suspects then attacked and stabbed the two victims before fleeing. The victims advised they did not release any money to the suspects.

Alejandro was transported to the hospital and treated for injuries that were not life threatening. Smallcomb said Armando received medical treatment at the scene.

Deputies continued their investigation into identifying the suspects and were able to obtain possible names of the suspects. Smallcomb said they eventually identified Raya and Hernandez as the main suspects responsible for the victims injuries. Both are known gang members.

On Wednesday at 1 a.m. Deputies Massey, Mcbride and Donald Scott proceeded to the suspects residences where they were contacted and subsequently arrested without incident, Smallcomb said.

The two suspects were arrested and booked, with bail for each set at $125,000.

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COBB – A Kelseyville man was arrested Monday after he allegedly attempted fled from the scene of a vehicle collision.

John Allen Kniss, 32, was arrested on felony charges of hit and run causing injury, driving under the influence causing bodily injury and misdemeanor resisting arrest following the crash, which occurred at approximately 7:19 p.m. Monday, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Tanguay.

Tanguay said Kniss was driving a 1991 Chevrolet Camaro northbound on Ranch Road, north of Highway 175 to Cobb as Heath Vijsma, 39, of Cobb was driving southbound on Highway 175 in a 1993 Ford Mustang. Another Cobb resident, 59-year-old Lynette Sandoval, in the front right passenger’s seat of the Ford Mustang.

Kniss allegedly allowed the Camaro to veer to the left and the front of the Camaro struck the front of the Mustang head-on, Tanguay said. The force of the impact inflicted injuries to passenger Sandoval.

Kniss then allegedly fled the scene in the Camaro and attempted to hide the vehicle at another location. Tanguay said the CHP located Kniss a short time later and he began to resist arrest.

Kniss was arrested and booked into the Lake County Jail, with his bail set at $10,000. He remained in jail on Tuesday, according to jail records.

CHP Officers Kevin Domby and Efrain Cortez are investigating the crash.

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

LUCERNE – The company that owns Lucerne's water system says it believes its utility model works and that it's not interested in selling the company.

California Water Service Co. is asking the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for rate hikes on its Lucerne system totaling nearly 68 percent over the coming three years, a decision that the commission currently is considering.

The CPUC held a public hearing at the Lucerne Alpine Senior Center March 4 about those suggested hikes, with Administrative Judge Jeffrey O'Donnell leading the hearing, as Lake County News has reported.

Community members raised a series of important points about the system's design, the cost for Lucerne's water compared to that of other areas in Cal Water's 24-district system and how the company can justify serious rate hikes in a community with high poverty and unemployment rates.

A report released last Wednesday placed Lake County's overall unemployment rate at 19.6 percent, and Lucerne's rate at 20.7 percent.

Statewide, California Water Service Group, Cal Water's parent company, has filed a general rate case for all of its districts, seeking rate increases of $70.6 million over the next three years.

On Feb. 24, California Water Service Group reported that its 2009 net income was up by $41 million or 2 percent over 2008. The company's revenues were up 10 percent, or $39 million, from 2008, growing to $449 million in 2009.

Of those revenues, an additional $50 million came from rate increases and $11 million in sales to new customers. At the same time, total operating expenses increased 11 percent or $38 million to $391 million in 2009, as costs for water production expense increased 9 percent, or $12 million, to $159 million compared to $147 million in 2008, the company reported.

At the same time, administrative and general expense increased 27 percent, or $16 million, to $75 million. The company reported that those costs were “primarily due to increased healthcare and benefit costs, new employees added as a result of our Hawaii acquisition, and new employees included in adopted rates for California.”

Other operations expense increased 11 percent, or $5 million, to $57 million, which company officials said are due primarily to increases in conservation expense and water treatment/water quality expense.

Since the March 4, Lake County News followed up with company to get additional information in response to questions that were posed but not answered. Lake County News also threw in a few of its own questions. Cal Water rates manager Darin Duncan provided the answers printed below.

The CPUC is still taking comments on Application No. 09-07-001 to the CPUC Public Advisor's Office, 505 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94102; e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; telephone 866-849-8390 or 415-703-2074.

The case also is on the CPUC Web site at www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/water .

Water rates comparisons

Question: At the March 4 meeting, Lucerne resident Dr. Wilson Goddard made comparisons between the rates in Cal Water's San Mateo district and in Lucerne, where meter charges are $8.75 and $32.58, respectively.

He also pointed out that San Mateo's charge for one “CCF” – or 100 cubic feet – of water is $3.03; for the same amount of water, Lucerne customers pay $5.45, and San Mateo's median income, based on the 2000 US Census, is $95,750, versus Lucerne's $25,345.

At the meeting Duncan explained the costs for getting the water from San Mateo, but he didn't explain the costs involved with Lucerne, such as who Cal Water purchases water from, how much it costs and the comparable monetary investment for treatment. He was asked to provide that information.

Answer: The water for Lucerne comes from Clear Lake. Cal Water must purchase this water from the Yolo County Flood Control & Water Conservation District at a current cost of $52.50 per acre foot of water or $2.10 per CCF. The total cost to purchase and treat the water, Duncan said, is $915 an acre foot.

“This is untreated water that Cal Water then pumps out of the lake and through the treatment plant. It costs approximately $2.10 per CCF to treat the water through the Lucerne plant,” he said.

That's compared to San Mateo, where their water cost from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is $1.65 per CCF or $718 per acre foot. That water already is treated.

“The main point of difference with the San Mateo system and the Lucerne system is that San Mateo is an urban area with 35,000 services versus only 1,280 customers for Lucerne,” Duncan wrote in his response. “There are large economies of scales in the water industry and individual water system components cost about the same in all areas.

“However, if we invest in say a $100,000 water main in Lucerne, this costs each customer approximately $12 per year, while that same $100,000 pipeline installed in San Mateo is spread over a much larger base and costs each of those customers less than $0.50 per year,” Duncan said.

What did the company pay for the Lucerne water system?

Questions: The company was asked on March 4 about the amount of money that Dominguez Service Corp. – which later merged with Cal Water – paid for the system when it purchased it from Bob and Nadine Strauss in 1999.

Lake County News also asked about any current agreements the company has with the Strausses, who several years ago built a large home on the lakefront next door to the location where the new treatment plant, completed last year, is located.

Answers: Dominguez Service Corp. paid $729,586 in 1999 for the Lucerne Water Co. Subsequent to that purchase, Cal Water and Dominquez Service Corp. merged, Duncan said.

“The only current agreement in effect with the Strausses is a mutually beneficial easement at the treatment plant site that allows the Strausses to access their property across part of our property and allows Cal Water to access our property across part of the Strauss property,” Duncan added.

Justification for rate hikes

Questions: Many Lucerne residents at the March 4 hearing discussed their dire economic straits, and their fears about having to choose between paying their water bills and buying food.

Cal Water was asked about its justification for asking for such high rate hikes in a community like Lucerne, which is one of the poorest in a county that has one of the state's highest unemployment rates.

They were asked why they are seeking approximately 68.5 percent in rate hikes for Lucerne over the coming three years. Statewide, the increases they're seeking over that same three-year period average 26.58 percent for all districts statewide.

In addition, they were asked about options for lower middle class and middle class residents who can't pay their bills but don't qualify for rate support.

Answers: Duncan explained that, in accordance with the CPUC, Cal Water calculates the cost of providing service to each district independently.

“We review what capital improvements are needed to keep the system operating to meet all Department of Public Health (DPH) standards and this is a large factor in the requested rate increase. When improvements are required to meet DPH standards, Cal Water does not look at the unemployment rate or social-economic background. The commission has consistently ruled that all customers have a right to safe, reliable service regardless of these factors. Rather, we comply with water quality regulations to ensure that our customers are drinking safe water that meets all applicable standards. This can be a difficult concept for people to understand, especially when the improvements are due to changes in regulations and people have been drinking the water under the old regulations for a long time with no perceived health effects.”

Unlike the electricity industry, Duncan said the CPUC requires that all tariff areas have independent costs of service. However, in 2005 the CPUC approved a rate support fund that reduces Lucerne customer bills by $17 per month (paid for by other Cal Water ratepayers). Cal Water has proposed increasing this subsidy in this application to $25.

“If customers fall behind on payments, we will work with them to set up payment plans,” Duncan wrote. “We also offer conservation devices to help educate customers about possibilities to save water and lower their monthly bills. Ultimately, if a customer fails to pay their water bills, we are forced to discontinue service to the customer in compliance with CPUC rules.”

Impacts on redevelopment efforts and community renovation

Question: At the March 4 hearing, District 1 Supervisor Denise Rushing and county Deputy Redevelopment Director Eric Seely both voiced concerns about the rate hikes.

In particular, Seely communicated the county's concerns regarding how the water rates are hampering the agency's ability to draw new businesses to the area. County officials also out that the county is itself a system customer, with its Lucerne facilities and parks supplied by the system.

Duncan was asked about what, if anything, has come of the company's discussions with the Lake County Redevelopment Agency.

Answer: Cal Water's discussions with Seely and the Lake County Redevelopment Agency “have not been generalized to the topic of the economy of the area,” Duncan wrote.

“Our contact has been very specific to individual projects where the water system may be impacted,” he continued. “They have requested location of underground facilities and they have provided plans for sidewalk improvements. The Parks Department has a service and they have tried to keep costs down by only maintaining one service, instead of using three separate old services by installing on-site piping to allow them to use only one service. We plan to work more closely with this agency to ensure we are doing all we can to help this situation.”

The system's conditions and Cal Water's knowledge of it at purchase

Question: Lucerne residents raised the issue on March 4 of what Dominguez and, subsequently Cal Water, knew about the Lucerne water system's condition at the time of purchase. Was any due diligence done to understand the condition of the system?

Answer: “Cal Water and Dominguez both conducted due diligence on the Lucerne system,” Duncan explained. “Both corporations realized that significant improvements were required to the treatment system and to the distribution system.

“I believe these improvements were envisioned to be farther out on the horizon, but changes to water quality standards affected the need to make these improvements sooner than anticipated in any due diligence,” he wrote. “The CPUC has recognized that smaller water companies are unable to perform the technical upgrades needed to meet changing regulation and they have encouraged more stable companies like Cal Water to acquire these smaller companies. The CPUC does not have a different model on how to calculate water rates for these smaller systems and is generally in favor of Cal Water making these improvements.”

Willingness to contemplate no profits?

Question: Are the company and its shareholders willing to contemplate that they may have to accept no profits from the Lucerne system in the coming several years?

Answer: The answer, said Duncan, is no.

“This is contrary to CPUC policy,” he wrote.

“In order for the utility to make investments that provide service to customers, the CPUC allows the utility reasonable costs of financing. Apart from cost of financing, Cal Water does not make any profit from its operations. The company is committed to only providing improvements necessary to meet DPH requirements and will work with the commission to identify the minimum required projects. Once again, Cal Water is seeking to increase the Lucerne subsidy from its other customers to offset some of the high cost of service in the area.”

A proposal for local ownership and control

Question: In response to Cal Water's 2005 proposal for a 246-percent increase for the Lucerne district, two local groups – Lucerne Community Water Organization (LCWO) and Lucerne Friends of Locally Owned Water (LucerneFLOW) arose to help fight request. The company ended up getting a roughly 120-percent increase, with low-income relief measures also adopted.

Community advocates have proposed to seek a purchase of the water system, either under their own steam or through the assistance of local government.

Would Cal Water contemplate selling the company to the county or the Lucerne community?

Answer: “No, Cal Water is not interested in selling the Lucerne district,” Duncan wrote.

“We believe we have a utility model that works and we are proud of the improvements we have made to the system,” he explained. “We would be interested in growing our presence in Clear Lake in order to spread fixed costs over a larger base and lower average costs.

“However, all parties including Cal Water need to understand that water service for this local area is expensive and will remain expensive for the foreseeable future regardless of system ownership, unless some outside entity pays the costs,” he concluded.

Question: In followup to his statement about an outside entity, Lake County News asked if Duncan was suggesting a state or county agency needed to assist with funding to pay for the system.

Answer: Duncan said the funding could be from different sources, such as improvements from developers or changes to the rate support fund structure.

Duncan said that, as Cal Water representatives noted at the March hearing, federal stimulus money is not available to Cal Water, but stimulus money has funded some of the state revolving loan funds.

“In some cases, public agencies pay for some of the infrastructure and Cal Water does not earn a return on this contributed infrastructure,” he wrote. “I realize at this time, this is not feasible, but in the future we plan to look at all options.”

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .



THE GEYSERS – A 2.9-magnitude earthquake was reported near The Geyser Sunday morning.

The quake occurred at a depth of 2.1 miles at 9:42 a.m., according to the US Geological Survey. It initially was reported as being 3.0 in magnitude.

The epicenter was located two miles north northeast of The Geysers, four miles west southwest of Cobb and six miles west northwest of Anderson Spring, the US Geological Survey reported.

No shake reports were received on the quake.

The Geysers area also experienced a 3.0-magnitude quake last Wednesday evening, as Lake County News has reported.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

The Dingwall family, from left, Shirley, Sgt. Tommy Dingwall, his father Tom Dingwall and grandfather Tom Dingwall. Photo by Ron Quick.


LAKEPORT – The February packing party brought a great surprise for Operation Tango Mike volunteers.

Sgt. Courtney T. (Tommy) Dingwall and his wife Brenda arrived for a surprise visit to share their thanks for local support during the Marine’s deployment. They were accompanied by the sergeant’s grandparents and father, and Brenda’s parents.

Volunteers were delighted with the visit and were happy to see the young man home and safe. Sgt. Dingwall shared some stories from his deployment, answered many questions and sincerely thanked everyone for the care packages and support he had received.

Sgt. and Mrs. Dingwall then stuck around to lend a hand packing care packages for other deployed troops.

This month, volunteers will be preparing Easter care packages for our troops. The packing party will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 18, at Umpqua Bank, 805 11th St., Lakeport. Rumor has it that we may have another visitor!

The March packing party is significant as it will mark seven years ago that I first sent a care package to a soldier in Afghanistan. I began doing so with friends when a couple of our co-workers were deployed.

Our co-workers returned home, but the need for troop support still existed. I continued sending care packages and began enlisting the help of others. Since then, the effort has grown to what has become known as Operation Tango Mike (Operation Thanks Much).

Lake County’s generosity and caring spirit has ensured that troops receive monthly care packages, even in difficult economic times. Somehow, the community always comes through and there are enough supplies, volunteers to lovingly pack them and funds to ship them.

There are similar troop support efforts around the country. However, many groups pack only quarterly or specifically during the holidays. Operation Tango Mike has grown and endured and care packages are sent every month. In fact, once a name is placed on the recipient list, that individual receives a monthly care package throughout his/her deployment. Troops can count on Operation Tango Mike’s support.





Ginny Craven, founder of Operation Tango Mike, and Sgt. Tommy Dingwall. Photo by Ron Quick.




Lake County is filled with giving and caring people who share of themselves in so many ways. This effort is one of the manifestations of that goodness and all that makes Lake County a wonderful place to live.

On Sunday, March 21, Operation Tango Mike volunteers, members of the Military Funeral Honors Team of Lake County and the Kelseyville Lions Club will co-sponsor a community event.

A pancake breakfast will be held from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Kelseyville Lions Club, 4335 Sylar Lane, with proceeds benefiting the family of Sergeant First Class David Hartman.

SFC Hartman was killed in Pakistan on Feb. 3, leaving behind his pregnant wife Cherise and toddler son Mikey.

Many of the soldier’s family members reside in Kelseyville and have expressed their gratitude for the community’s support.

For further information regarding Operation Tango Mike, please call 349-2838 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

SUSANVILLE – A man convicted of a 1989 murder has been denied parole for the fourth time.

The Board of Parole Hearings denied parole to Oreno Baddie, 69, on March 9.

Baddie previously had parole hearings in in 2001, 2004 and 2008, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff, who has appeared at all previous hearings to oppose parole for Baddie.

On May 14, 1989, Baddie shot and killed Cesario P. Martinez in the city of Clearlake.

Investigation reports by the Clearlake Police Department revealed that two days prior to the murder, Martinez obtained a stereo from Baddie that resulted in a disagreement over ownership of the stereo, and Baddie began threatening to kill Martinez.

Martinez, who was warned of the threats by an officer, did not take the threats seriously, and attempted to contact Baddie to resolve the dispute and calm him down.

When Martinez knocked on Baddie’s door to speak to him, Baddie retrieved a gun and confronted Martinez who was standing outside and was unarmed. Baddie told Martinez he was under citizen’s arrest and ordered him to lie on the ground.

When Martinez refused to lie down, Baddie shot him five times in the chest, lower back, thigh, forearm and wrist. Martinez died that day at the hospital.

Baddie later told investigators that he shot Martinez because he was afraid he would get away. It was reported that Baddie had been heavily using drugs and alcohol in the days preceding the shooting.

Baddie was convicted by a jury of second degree murder and personal use of a firearm on Jan. 8, 1990, and on Oct. 26, 1990, was sentenced by Superior Court Judge John J. Golden to a term of 17 years to life.

Hinchcliff attended the two-hour Lifer Hearing at the High Desert State Prison, located in Susanville, and asked the Board of Parole Hearings commissioners to deny parole for the reasons that Baddie had not attended any drug and alcohol rehabilitation classes during his 20 years in prison, and still presented an unreasonable danger to the public if released on parole.

The commissioners agreed and denied parole, stating that the crime was committed for a trivial reason, was committed in a callous manner, that Baddie had not made sufficient programming efforts in prison, and that he still presented a danger to the public if released at this time.

In addition, Baddie had consistently disregarded parole commissioners previous recommendations that he participate in drug and alcohol treatment.

Baddie’s next parole hearing will be in 2013.

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

LAKE COUNTY – Known as a prime area to view a variety of our feathered friends by expert birders, several areas of Lake County were represented in the 13th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, which took place Friday, February 12, through Monday, Feb. 15.

A joint project led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, with Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada and sponsorship from Wild Birds Unlimited, the GBBC is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent, according to BirdSource.org, the project’s website.

Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts, in as little as 15 minutes on one day of the event. However, bird watchers can count for any time period each day of the event.

This event is an opportunity for families, students, and people of all ages to discover the wonders of nature while making an important contribution to conservation to help the birds at the same time, states BirdSource.org.

“Anyone who can identify even a few species can contribute to the body of knowledge that is used to inform conservation efforts to protect birds and biodiversity,” said Audubon Education Vice-President, Judy Braus.

The data help researchers understand bird population trends across the continent, according to www.birdsource.org , and this information is critically important for effective conservation efforts.

Reports were filed from around Lake County including Clearlake, Clearlake Oaks, Cobb, Hidden Valley Lake, Kelseyville, Lakeport, Lower Lake, Lucerne, Middletown and Upper Lake.

Over 3,300 birds were counted throughout the county by 46 watchers, with over 50 species of birds reported in Cobb alone, and more than 75 species countywide.

Bald eagles were spotted in Cobb, Clearlake Oaks, and Kelseyville during this four-day event, and a peregrine falcon was spotted in Cobb, and a prairie falcon in Lakeport.

The most numerous birds spotted around the county included the American robin, California quail, herring gull, lesser goldfinch, dark-eyed junco, Brewer's blackbird, oak titmouse, red winged blackbird, California gull, mallard, and bufflehead.

Other species typically seen in Lake County and recorded during the four-day event included American white pelican, golden eagle, Canada goose, wood duck, wild turkey, western, pie-billed, horned, and Clark’s grebes, acorn woodpecker, northern flicker, California and spotted towhees, golden-crowned and white-crowned sparrows, great blue heron, Anna’s hummingbird, American and lesser goldfinches, and many more.

Located along the Pacific Flyway, Lake County hosts more than 300 species of birds, and the Clear Lake Area is designated an “Important Bird Area” by Audubon California because of the diversity of birds and valuable bird habitats, making participation in nationwide bird watching events, including the GBBC and the Christmas Bird Count, as easy as stepping out in to your own backyard, local schoolyard, or community park.

Businesses, schools, nature clubs, Scout troops, and other community organizations interested in the GBBC can contact the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at (800) 843-2473 or Audubon at (202) 861-2242, Ext 3050 or visit www.birdsource.org .

Lake County bird and wildlife viewing information:

The Redbud Audubon Society hosts monthly informative meetings and field trips: www.redbudaudubon.org

The Lake County Land Trust offers weekly guided bird and nature walks at Rodman Slough Preserve:


Clear Lake State Park Interpretive Association offers guided nature walks:


Annual Heron Festival and Wildflower Brunch:


Events and tour information:


E-mail Terre Logsdon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .



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