The Hitch Conservation Strategy
Everyone living in Lake County needs to be aware of the recent and current meetings regarding the quality of Clear Lake both with its habitats and water quali- ty and flows. Last Thursday was the first of two zoom meetings regarding the Hitch population in Clear Lake. There is a strong push to list the Hitch on the Endangered Spices List. Local tribes such as the Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians, Robinson Rancheria of Pomo Indians, Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake and the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians, along with the Cen- ter for Biological Diversity urge Interior Secretary Debra Haaland and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today to provide emer- gency protections to the Clear Lake Hitch. The next zoom meeting is Wednesday, Feb- ruary 1, 2023, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. PST . Remote Participation – Join Zoom Meeting: https://bit.ly/CLH_Feb1.
“Adult hitch migrate upstream in tributaries of Clear Lake each spring to spawn before returning to the lake. Juvenile Hitch hatch in the tributaries and move to the lake as well. While the Hitch’s decline can be linked to a variety of factors includ- ing habitat loss, passage barriers, poor water quality, and invasive species, the most im- mediate threat to their survival is little to no water flowing in Kelsey, Adobe, Manning, Cole, and Middle Creeks during the upcom- ing spawning and rearing season (February through May). The State Water Board is looking for ways to protect the Clear Lake Hitch now and in the long term, including local voluntary actions to keep water in the creeks this year, obtaining data to better understand the problem and potential solu- tions, collaboration to fund effective solu- tions and spread important messages, en- forcement to ensure all diversions in the area are legal, and regulations if voluntary actions aren’t successful.” (County of Lake)
The USGS (United States Geologi- cal Survey) is working closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to generate addi- tional scientific information needed for ef- fective management and conservation of the Hitch in Clear Lake. What does it mean for a species to be listed as threatened? A threatened species is defined under the ESA as “any species which is likely to become an endangered species within the foresee- able future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.” Species designated as threatened or endangered are called “listed species. What are the positives and the neg- atives of the Hitch on this list? Short and long-term economic benefits can conflict with the preservation of the species. Re- strictions on land use to protect habitats can have negative impacts on businesses, tour- ism and result in loss of jobs.
The Clear Lake Chamber reached out to the Lake County Farm Bureau in regards to possible water restriction on farmers. In talking with a local rancher, water restrictions could be devastating to crops, thus our economy.
Another concern brought to our attention is in regards to the wide mouth bass and the stocking of this and other game fish into our lake. Pro bass fishing brings revenue into our county, and to stop stock- ing would be detrimental to our economy and the sport.
Everyone involved is concerned with the efforts to conserve the Clear Lake Hitch, there is no doubt that our years of drought and lack of action through dredging creeks and waterways are leading to a re- duction in spawning locations for the Hitch.
Please read further the Lake County News article printed on Jan. 25th.