Clear Lake Watershed Study (Lake County)

The Clear Lake Hitch (Lavinia exilicauda chi; CLH) is a large minnow endemic to Clear Lake and its surrounding tributaries. The CLH, also known as chi, are a culturally important resource to California Native American Tribes in the Clear Lake region. The CLH population has declined over the years, and in 2014, was listed on the California Endangered Species Act list as a “threatened” species. In March 2023, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-5-23(opens in new tab) directing CDFW and the State Water Resources Control Board(opens in new tab) to evaluate minimum instream flows to protect the CLH.

To address the Executive Order, CDFW will conduct a study to evaluate instream flows for CLH passage in tributaries of the Clear Lake watershed, including Middle, Scotts, Manning, Adobe, Kelsey, and Cole Creeks (see study area map). The goal of the study is to characterize relationships between streamflow and habitat/fish passage in the tributaries of the Clear Lake watershed. These relationships can then be utilized to inform water resource decisions and protect instream flows to support critical habitat for CLH. CDFW is currently coordinating and collaborating with California Native American Tribes, local, state, and federal agencies of the Clear Lake watershed.

The Department hosted a virtual, informational public meeting on February 7, 2024 to present the Draft Study Plan: Instream Flow Evaluation for Clear Lake Hitch Passage in Tributaries of the Clear Lake Watershed, Lake County. The public meeting recording can be viewed here: Clear Lake Public Meeting - February 7, 2024 (YouTube)..(opens in new tab)

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Map of selected tributary streams surrounding Clear Lake where instream flow studies will be completed. Green, pink, and yellow colors denote watersheds within the Upper Cache subbasin. Click image of map to enlarge.
Click map to enlarge.