Clear Lake Hitch
The Clear Lake hitch is a large minnow found only in Clear Lake and its tributaries. Historically, the hitch likely numbered in the millions, but recent surveys indicate a significant decline, and in 2014, California designated the hitch as a threatened species. The hitch has strong cultural significance for several indigenous Pomo tribes of the Clear Lake region that rely on the hitch (or “chi”) for spiritual purposes and traditions and as a primary food source. The hitch is also of great importance to the lake’s ecosystem, a significant source of food for other fish, birds, and wildlife.
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 solutions, collaboration to fund effective solutions and spread important messages, enforcement to ensure all diversions in the area are legal, and regulations if voluntary actions aren’t successful.
January 19, 2023 and February 1, 2023 - Clear Lake Hitch Listening Sessions
State Water Board staff will hold two virtual public listening sessions on Thursday, January 19, 2023, from 1:00-3:00pm PST and Wednesday, February 1, 2023, from 6:00-8:00 pm PST to discuss the emergency situation impacting the Clear Lake hitch and potential near and long-term solutions. Please visit the "Opportunities for Input" section below to view the notice. For questions about the listening sessions, please email ClearLakeHitch@waterboards.ca.gov.
Clear Lake Hitch Background
- United States Geological Survey (USGS): Studying Threatened Fish Species in Clear Lake, CA
- USGS: Hydrologic and Aquatic Ecology Studies at Clear Lake, California
- University of California Davis Agriculture and Natural Resources: Clear Lake Hitch
- Center for Biological Diversity: Clear Lake Hitch
- Thompson et al., 1999. The native and introduced fishes of Clear Lake: a review of the past to assist with decisions of the future. California Fish and Game 99(1): 7-41.
- Big Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency, 2022. Big Valley Groundwater Sustainability Plan (5-015)
Clear Lake Hitch Response
Clear Lake Hitch Listening Sessions (Notice REVISED)
On January 19, 2023, the State Water Board held an on-line public listening session to describe the Clear Lake hitch emergency. The presentation included information obtained by State Water Board staff since early December, preliminary data analysis, and anticipated short-term and long-term regulatory actions. The listening session also included time for public comment and discussion.