Scenic USA - California

Lake Natoma

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Lake Natoma - Sacramento, California

Photo by Fred Weyman
Fred Weyman Photography

   California's Central Valley is centered on two major watersheds and extends for nearly 500 miles from the Cascade Mountains in the north to the Kern River-Bakersfield area in the south. Here in the valley, surrounded by major mountain ranges in all directions, lies the majority of California's most favorable farmland. Plagued by drought and floods, the idea of water conservation and a plan for a string of 20 water reservoirs was born in the 1930s. Today, the Central Valley Project not only protects this immense valley from major flooding, but provides irrigation for three million acres of farmland and supplies a million households with water and clean electricity up and down the valley.
   Here on Lake Natoma, one of the secondary reservoirs on the American River, the Nimbus Dam controls releases from upstream Lake Folsom. Aside from its main function, Lake Natoma doubles as a recreational area. Campgrounds, bicycle paths, yearlong fishing and boating, and one of the finest rowing facilities on the coast make this a popular recreation area.
   Here in northeast Sacramento the setting sun places this distinctive blue oak on center stage. Among a grove of blue oaks on the southern lake shore, this oak tree is just on the verge of putting on a flush of new growth and was caught just in time to display its gnarled web of tiny branches. Its distinctive blue leaves, guiding Scottish biologist David Douglas to bestow its simple name, identify with one of the largest ancient forests of California. From the eastern Sierra-Nevada foothills to the Coastal Range in the west, imagine a three million acre blue oak forest ... another one of California's natural wonders.

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