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The Call of Cole Creek

It’s a joy to note that the many tributaries running into Clear Lake are full, due to nature’s abundant silver strings of rain! It should be no surprise that Cole Creek is also running adequately, and that’s good news for the Clear Lake hitch, fish that require normal stream flows for spawning. The California State Water Resources Control Board states, “The hitch use Clear Lake creeks to spawn and rear each year from February through June (and longer if water is available).” Since hitch was listed as a threatened species, efforts have been underway to aid this problem. Some means of protecting the hitch include reduced water use, keeping waterways clear, and removing any nearby items detrimental to the fish, such as trash and vehicles. Hitch, or Chi, are still considered an important fish for our local indigenous populations. The draft document by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife entitled, Draft Study Plan Instream Flow Evaluation for Clear Lake Hitch Passage in Tributaries of the Clear Lake Watershed, Lake County,  p. 6 states, “There are more than 15 tributaries surrounding Clear Lake the Clear Lake hitch may utilize.” Cole Creek is one of these important waterways.

Cole Creek is located in the Big Valley Groundwater Basin. According to the publication, California’s Groundwater Bulletin #118, it is set in the west-central area of Lake County. If we were to sneak a peak underground, we’d see that the geology that forms this groundwater basin is made up of Quaternary to late Tertiary alluvial deposits. This means that this is a formation of the ‘freshest’ or most recently placed geologic strata that’s located at or near Earth’s surface in her valleys or  Earth’s ocean floors. Geologists enjoy discoveries like these since these formations are what they consider as most easily compared to modern-times sedimentary deposits. Here, underlying Lake County’s Cole Creek the deposits are made up of blue clay that alternates with limestone and shale.   

The  California Department of Fish and Wildlife tell us that the fish inhabiting Cole Creek (besides hitch) are rainbow trout, brown bullhead, Sacramento sucker fish, Sacramento sqawfish, California roach, and others. A rich riparian habitat parallels the creek and benefits the variety of wildlife species here. A remarkable variety of bird species abound around Cole Creek, made evident in exuberant songs heard across the water. It never gets old to view ospreys as they grab a fish snack, grebes, swallows, scrubjays, spotted towees, flickers, nuthatchs, quail, bulebirds, California towee, bushtits, tree swallows and more. The beauty of a heron’s clear and detailed reflection upon the water is always a delight. While peering into Cole Creek’s cool waters you may spy tree roots as they lie tangled under water like snakes. In her book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, nature writer, Annie Dillard said, “It has always been a happy thought to me that the creek runs on all night, new every minute, whether I wish it or know it or care, as a closed book on a shelf continues to whisper to itself its own inexhaustible tale.”

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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