Discovering CLERC: The Clear Lake Environmental Research Center

Have you ever heard of CLERC? CLERC stands for Clear Lake Environmental Research Center. CLERC is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization now located in Lakeport in the historic Carnegie Library building at Library Park. The threads of CLERC’s tapestry are far-reaching and address the needs of our unique county through their varied projects and programs. The purpose of CLERC, as mentioned on their interesting website is ” To bring science, education, government, tribal and business groups together to resolve issues involving Clear Lake, to study the unique properties of Clear Lake and the surrounding area and, to coordinate programs and projects that focus on solutions to environmental and economic problems locally and worldwide.”

CLERC’s water quality testing laboratory operates in their lab near Clear Lake’s shores in Lakeport. Here is where you can have your drinking water analyzed for total coliform and E. coli. They operate an accredited lab through the California Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program, or ELAP, and it’s the only accredited microbiology lab in the county.

They also coordinate a volunteer fish observation program to study the Hitch in concert with the Chi Council. Hitch is an ancient species of fish endemic to Clear Lake, and once spawned in creeks by the thousands. The Indigenous people of Lake County once regarded the Hitch as an annual food source. Visit CLERC’s website for photos and videos of these important fish and learn to identify and report them in springtime.

To address the needs of Lake County’s diverse ecosystems and promote healthy forests CLERC is putting some hard-won grants to use. The Fox Drive Fire Prevention Project was set in motion to address the alarming and ongoing tree die-off that those of us who live in Lake County are witnessing across the mountainsides. Beginning on Cobb, near Fox and Hoberg Drives where high-risk areas were targeted,  tree-felling of pines near homes with beetle outbreaks took place successfully. The Fox Drive Fire Prevention Project was initiated with funding secured from a CalFire Fire Prevention Grant.  CalFire performed flyovers of the affected area and with the aid of an entomologist determined the extent of  the problem.

As National Geographic Magazine discussed in a recent article,  trees in Earth’s forests have been evolving for millennia. With fossils of the most ancient forests found to be around 365 million years old, trees have been changing and adapting to alterations in climate while removing Co2 from the air and collectively cooling the planet all the while.

Scientists understand the forest’s critical task in the lives of humans as well as wildlife on our ever-warming planet. We all know that change and adaptation is a slowly evolving process, and it takes hard work along with teamwork to reach and facilitate goals for our communities to thrive in these extra-challenging times.

In May of this year CLERC was honored by the Lake County Board of Supervisors when they issued an official proclamation to credit them for all of the work they have done in Lake County in preparation for fire season. The proclamation coincided with Wildfire Awareness Week and the release of the updated Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP), that CLERC was instrumental in preparing.

To learn more about CLERC, join its mailing list or to donate visit:




Kathleen Scavone

Kathleen Scavone, MA., is a retired educator who has resided in beautiful Lake County for over 45 years. She freelances fiction, poetry, nature writing, curriculum ideas, and local history. She writes for The Press Democrat, Napa Valley Register, News From Native California, Green Prints, etc. She has published three books, a play and a poetry chapbook. The second edition of her locally set historical novella, People of the Water- a novella of the events leading to the Bloody Island Massacre of 1850 is available in local museums and stores, as well as on Amazon.com and IngramSpark in both paperback and e-book formats. She has written Anderson Marsh State Historic Park- A Walking History, Prehistory, Flora and Fauna tour of a California State Park, and Native Americans of Lake County. Kathleen is a photographer and potter. Her other interests include hiking, assisting on archaeology digs, travel, gardening and reading.

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