ContentsPutah and Cache: Clear Lake or Lypoyomi

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The Ample Charms of a Well-Fed Lake

Pete Richerson and Scott Richerson

The science of inland waters is called limnology, from the Greek limnaea, for lake. Limnologists array lakes on a continuum from oligotrophic to eutrophic, Greek for "poorly fed" and "well fed," respectively. At the poorly fed end of the continuum are the nearly sterile lakes like Lake Tahoe. Deep, clear, and cold, these lakes appear often on postcards and calendars. On the other hand, well-fed lakes tend to be shallow, turbid, warm, and not quite so beautiful to look at. Clear Lake is well into the eutrophic range and seldom clear; the 19th century journalist-historian Lyman Palmer, quoting an 1877 article in the San Francisco Post, ascribed the epithet "clear" to the air, not the water. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and to the many animals that inhabit these fat lakes, eutrophy is indeed beautiful, a beautiful meal! A rich supply of mineral nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and iron, means lots of aquatic plants, which feed the crustaceans, shellfish, worms, and insects, which in turn feed the small fish, which feed the big fish, which feed the grebes, pelicans, herons, osprey, eagles, mink, raccoons, otters and humans.To explain what makes Clear Lake eutrophic and to draw out the consequences of this and other properties of the lake ecosystem, as well as to acquaint you with some of the natural and human history of the area, we will take you on a circular tour of the lake.

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Jericho Country
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Upper Cache Creek