The Wild Side of Clear Lake
By Terry Knight
We’ve thought about doing a piece on Clear Lake for a long time: It’s a wildlife magnet just over two hours from our office in Berkeley, and yet relatively few Bay Area nature lovers ever visit.
You might imagine that Clear Lake was named for the clarity of its water. Not so. It
turns out that early European settlers named this lake for the clarity of the region’s air, which today remains some of the best around. Before the Europeans named the lake, the local Pomo people called it Lypoyomi, or Big Water. And so it is: Clear Lake covers 44,000 acres and its shoreline stretches 110 miles. That makes it the largest freshwater lake entirely inside California.
And that’s not the lake’s only superlative. It’s also the oldest lake in the state and possibly the oldest in North America. The region sits at the edge of a large volcanic field, and constant tectonic movement has kept Clear Lake from filling in with sediment for two million years
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