hitch photo Tom Taylor

Watch the MOVIE!: live footage (with sound!) of hitch migrating and spawning!

Next meeting October 25, 2016

The 2016 hitch run has ended, with substantial numbers of fish observed in the Middle Creek drainage for the first time in many years: please check out this year's results and photos. All Chi Council volunteers who have not already done so are urged to submit their observations as soon as possible for inclusion in the database.

As usual, we are taking the summer off. The next Chi Council meeting will be held at 3:30PM on Wednesday October 25, 2016, at the Ag Center, just off Lakeport Blvd at Highway 29. Please download a map if you need directions. Download the minutes of the May 25 meeting

Please note that the creeks are running and warmer weather may be coming soon, which means that the 2016 hitch migration season could begin at any time. All volunteers are encouraged to download printable and/or excel format observation report sheets and to start looking for hitch. Please note your observations whether or not you see any hitch: negative reports are just as valuable as positive ones. Detailed information about the ways to report observations can be found on the forms.

All interested parties are invited to attend the Council's meetings. For further information, to sign up for our email list, or to volunteer for the monitoring program contact chicouncil@lakelive.info.



On September 25, 2012 the Center for Biological Diversity filed state and federal petitions requesting protection for the Clear Lake hitch under the Endangered Species Act. Read about the listing process, latest scientific assessment by Dr. Peter Moyle, and the hitch status review prepared by the Department of Fish and Wildlife recommending "threatened" status under CESA. More news and commentary.

On August 6 2014 the California Fish and Game Commission formally listed the hitch as "threatened." For details, check the article that appeared in the August 11 Press Democrat, or watch the live video of the August 6 meeting.

The Chi Council is a coordinated resource management and planning group dedicated to the study, protection, and restoration of a viable population of Lavinia exilicauda chi (the Clear Lake Hitch) within a healthy watershed ecosystem. Details of the Council's goals, guidelines and organizational structure are stated in the August 23, 2004 Memorandum of Understanding (updated August 23, 2009) which formally established it as an entity.

The hitch, an ancient fish endemic to Clear Lake, live in deep in water most of the time, but every spring the adults work their way up the tributary creeks to spawn. In the words of biologist Rick Macedo, they used to "mass by the thousands," in an annual ritual "as spectacular as any salmon run on the Pacific coast . . . The tumultuous splashing . . . and the appearance of herons, osprey, egrets, and bald eagles . . . signify that the hitch are in." In recent years the population seems to have declined precipitously, for reasons that are still poorly understood. Streambed obstructions, predation by introduced fish, and food competition all have been suggested as possible causes for their diminished numbers.

At the present time the Council has formulated several immediate objectives:

  • Coordinating and training volunteer population monitoring teams
  • Establishing scientific protocols for the monitoring effort, and maintaining a database of the information learned
  • Encouraging scientific research on hitch and their habitat
  • Enhancing public awareness of hitch and their habitat
  • Gathering and preserving information about hitch and their traditional uses by the native peoples of the Clear Lake Basin
  • Sponsoring habitat restoration projects

Quagga Mussel Alert!

By action of the Board of Supervisors, all vessels launching into any Lake County waters must participate in the county's mandatory band and sticker program, with inspection and decontamination if necessary. Local residents must renew their stickers annually, visitors monthly. More info

Or call the Mussel Hotline,
263 2556

To report possible violators or suspected contamination call the Sheriff at
263 8656 or 911

Penalty for launching without a valid sticker has been raised to $1000

On Tuesday April 28, 2009 the Board of Supervisors presented the prestigious Conservationist of the Year award to the Chi Council. This honor, which is awarded on nomination of the Fish and Wildlife Advisory Committee and memorialized by listing on a permanent plaque in the lobby of the Courthouse in Lakeport, had not been given for the past ten years. Photos and story here.

 

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