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CDFW Launches Immediate Efforts to Save Clear Lake Hitch

A coalition of Tribal, local, state, and federal entities are taking immediate action to support the long-term survival of the Clear Lake hitch. Actions include $2 million in state funding to remove barriers to hitch migration. Historically numbering in the millions, Clear Lake hitch now are facing a tough fight to avoid extinction.


On March 23, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced a list of commitments designed to protect spawning and rearing areas, provide appropriate stream flows, remove barriers to migration and reduce predation. CDFW expects these actions to positively impact the Clear Lake hitch population this spawning season and over the next few years.


Immediate actions are needed to ensure flows are sufficient for successful spawning conditions; Tribal, local, federal, and state leaders, as well as private landowners, are actively collaborating on interim efforts to ensure successful conditions through the end of the spawning period in June. 


Recent reports indicate hitch are migrating up tributaries from Clear Lake into Cole, Kelsey, Manning, and Adobe creeks. A recently installed fish ladder, designed by CDFW habitat specialists specifically for the hitch, has allowed them to migrate up and over a barrier in Manning Creek that has prevented fish passage for several decades.


CDFW has made agreements with Tribal governments to rescue fish that become stranded during spawning while also engaging with the local agricultural community to identify areas of fish stranding throughout the watershed. 


On March 16, CDFW fishery biologists, local agricultural community members, and Tribal members rescued 450 adult Clear Lake hitch from a drainage canal along Cole Creek. CDFW has also taken steps to hold fish at hatchery facilities should rescued fish need a safe haven for a short time.


In coordination with the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), CDFW is evaluating permitting options for local agricultural stakeholders to provide pumped groundwater into areas of creeks that may become dry during spawning season, providing immediate relief during low water conditions. The broad coalition of partners is also gauging streams at multiple locations and reporting data to identify areas of poor spawning habitat conditions and to develop models for future use in predicting stream flow conditions.


The CDFW has also committed $2 million to enforce barrier removal projects over the next three years. Working with Tribes and the Lake County Land Stewards, CDFW will accept funding proposals submitted in the next 90 days to remove barriers to hitch migration.


For the full press release, please visit 

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