The History Of Tulare Lake

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Throughout agricultural history, there have been a numerous amount of successful and unsuccessful destructions among the environment such as Tulare Lake. Tulare Lake was home to the Yokut Indians for approximately 2,000 years. Plantation of crops had a negative effect on Tulare lake, endangering, wildlife and abandoned plants. Today, Tulare Lake has its presence of water, but also has its absence causing an effect on this hydrologic region. 

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Tulare Lake, a hydrologic region, located in the Southern end of the San Joaquin Valley includes all of Tulare, Kings counties and a large portions of Fresno and Kern counties. These water districts in the region have developed an extensive network of canals, channels, and pipelines to deliver water supplies to its customers. The downfall began in the mid-1800s when “European settlers” began to build canals and diversion structures to irrigate their crops. Due to the irrigation of crops, this left an effect on Tulare Lake by cutting off its water resources. It was later reported, in 1899, that “Tulare Lake went dry’ for the very first time in history. Although Tulare Lake went dry, in 1938, heavy rains were reported causing a flood in the San Joaquin Valley. The floods eventually lead Tulare Lake to break the levee near Corcoran and flood major acres of cropland. By the 1980s, water was drained into 28 ponds totaling an amount of 7,300 acres. With a shortage of water in Tulare Lake, the lake slowly began to dry up, putting wildlife and wild nature in danger. To point out, species that were left in danger were salmon, sturgeon, ducks, geese, mussels, clams and terrapin. The first couple years as the water dried, the soil became useful. The soil was used to help grow crops and provide nutrients for the crops being planted. However, the destructions and loss of both wetlands and uplands, caused a shortage in the amount of food and other resources that were available, while restricting and isolating populations. 

Today, migratory birds are seen using these evaporation ponds as feeding, nesting and breeding grounds. As of today, Tulare Lake is no longer a lake but now consist of solid, dry, plain soil. However, throughout winter, water tends to form small ponds attracting some wild life, but it has not yet returned to its 16,400 acres of water. Tulare Lake, today, receives its water from five sources. These sources are precipitation, runoff from local rivers and streams, groundwater, State Water Project delivery, and Central Valley Project delivery. Although Tulare Lake was once an entire valley that consisted of wild nature and permeant historic of water, it is now a dried-up lake. 

07 July 2022

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