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Cache Creek: a wilderness nearby


By Sara D. Husby-Good
Executive Director of Tuleyome

Did you know that the Cache Creek River and the Cache Creek Natural Area is right in your own back yard?  Just a quick 50 mile hop, skip, and a jump in the car and you could soon find yourself immersed in an area rich in natural wonder and excellent outdoor recreation.

Bald Eagle at Cache Creek (Photo by Andrew Fulks)

The Cache Creek Natural Area is made up of over 70,000 acres of public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management 4,700 acres of State and County public land.  Of the 70,000 acres of secluded, hilly expanse of oak woodlands, grasslands, and chaparral, on BLM public lands, 27,245 acres was put into permanent protection as Wilderness in 2006 under Congressman Mike Thompson’s Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Act.

The Cache Creek Natural Area is also home to one of the largest wintering habitats for bald eagles.  From mid-October  till mid-April you can discover the bald eagles soaring above, feeding on catfish and carp from the Cache Creek River, or nesting in trees high above your heads.  And if you keep an eye out on hillsides, near brushy cover you might be able to see Tule elk and blacktail deer.  You may also be able to spot a river otter under the Highway 20 Bridge if you have a bit of patience.

The Cache Creek River flows year round through this magnificent natural area and is a tributary to the Sacramento River.  In 2005, led by local group Tuleyome, AB 1328 was introduced by then Assembly member Lois Wolk to designate a portion of Cache Creek as a California Wild and Scenic River.

But the Cache Creek River also has a history with hydrology.  The Cache Creek Dam on the Main Fork of Cache Creek, about five miles downstream from Clear Lake, was built to increase Clear Lake’s capacity and to regulate outflow for downstream users of Cache Creek water.  While the Indian Valley Dam on the North Fork of Cache Creek forms Indian Valley Reservoir. The dam’s primary purpose is water storage for irrigation, but a 3.3 MW hydroelectric plant was built to take advantage of the falling water.  When water is released from the dams during the summertime, the Cache Creek River is an ideal spot for kayaking, canoeing, or rafting down the river.

  But everything I just told you are facts.  What about the story behind the Cache Creek Natural Area and the Cache Creek River?

Did you know that the Cache Creek River was named by the Hudson Bay Company, trappers who caught furs along the Sacramento River and other tributaries?  The original name given by the Hudson Bay Company was Rivière la Cache.  Or did you know that gravel mining has taken place up and down Cache Creek and innovative projects like the Jan T. Lowrey Cache Creek Nature Preserve emerged out of struggles over whether and how much to mine out of the river?

Want to learn more about how local history and ecology intersect?  Then I suggest attending one of the Restore/Restory project presentations on Nov 8 or 9.  Restore/Restory explores the different social, cultural, and environmental histories of the Cache Creek Nature Preserve through the voices of a wide range of Yolo County residents. The project involved over 200 Yolo County people in a collaborative effort to chronicle our diverse and changing demographics, traditions and relationships with the land. Collectively, they a wide array of media art work that you can explore at restorerestory.org. Restore/Restory is a project of the UC Davis Art of Regional Change in collaboration with the Cache Creek Conservancy.  For more information on upcoming presentations please go to http://artofregionalchange.ucdavis.edu/?page_id=1070) .

A stretch of the Cache Creek wilderness (photo by Jim Rose, Tuleyome)

But also take the opportunity to get out and create your own stories and adventures in the Cache Creek Natural Area with your friends and family.  Year round the region offers adventures suited for everyone.  The Cache Creek Region offers hiking, fishing, hunting, equestrian usage, birding, and a great opportunity to see rare wildflowers.  For more information on outdoor hiking and paddle guides please check out Tuleyome Trails at www.Tuleyome.org.

  “Tuleyome Tales” news features are produced by Tuleyome , a regional conservation organization based in Woodland.  Sara Husby-Good is the Executive Director.  You can learn more at www.tuleyome.org

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