Jim Steele

Jim Steele is a former Lake County Supervisor in District 3 on the County's North Shore. He is a retired State Water Quality Scientist, Registered Professional Forester, Endangered Species and Water Rights Consultant and has taught graduate level courses as an adjunct professor at Cal-State University, Sacramento.

Window on Lake County: Making Fire Risk Reduction a Priority

Evidence of long ago wildfires sweeping the Artic left behind a charcoal soil layer documenting events of three million years ago; give or take a few. Temperatures might have been 20F higher than today and thick forests spread further to the North. It looks like we’re in for a repeat, as this past year, Arctic fires burned in Greenland. This was not uncommon as 50,000 acres were burned in Alaska and 708,000 acres of forest blackened in Northern Russian forests. Of course, today we don’t have the mammoths, camels and giant sloths from that earlier period. But that’s another story.  

Window on Lake County: Clear Lake’s Incremental Impacts

We’re all aware of the changes in life that go unnoticeable from day to day but can be detected over time. Changes from getting older always come to mind, also wear and tear on the high mileage family car. Something familiar to add to the list is the changes that occur with increasing population leading to increased infrastructure building such as roads, new agriculture, increased well drilling, town development, or the off-road vehicle boom. In the not-so-familiar or obvious category are the unnoticed changes to ecosystems caused by landscape alterations. These incremental changes are often small when they occur but can be considerable when they accumulate. Species becoming endangered is the most notable result.

Window on Lake County: Clear Lake – Re-Engineer or Re-Wild? – Part 2

What are those questions that would guide better decision making to a rewilding of the Clear Lake watersheds ecosystems? The first might be to determine how to restore the Middle Creek area to its most effective wetland attributes without creating more problems of flooding or mosquito invasions. Basically, how much landform change is needed to best support the interactions of wildlife, human enjoyment and sediment trapping. Right now the operating principle is to purchase all the land back to a public ownership and only then turn the designing and construction over to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.

Window on Lake County: Clear Lake – Re-engineer or Re-wild?

Clearlake is a large natural warmwater lake with a small dam, a shoreline surrounded by homes with docks, roads built around the waters’ edge, small communities and two cities with hardened street surfaces focusing rain water toward the lake forming the picture today. It’s sometimes a beautiful scene with abundant wildlife including the best fishing in the state and inhabited by several hundred bird species. But it does have some noticeable cyanobacteria blooms during warm periods and this can dampen the lake tourism industry. Has it always been this way as you sometimes hear?

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