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Wyatt Cline

Wyatt Cline
Capay Valley Rancher
Native people have farmed this area for as long as they’ve been here.

Wyatt Cline has grown up around Cache Creek and has witnessed the change in scenery from when it was a completely mined pit to the current Cache Creek Nature Preserve. His memories reveal a first-hand account of how the Creek has changed and why it is so important that the alterations have happened.




What is something about this place that you would like to communicate to the public who potentially have never heard of it or never been here?

I would say, the importance of Cache Creek to the community, including the agricultural community and the community that fished and trapped it in the 1800’s, like my family did, has to do with how it is used  for food. As I learned from my grandfather, it’s more than just a recreation resource; it’s a way of life.

Speaking to that sense of community, would you mind elaborating on the ways in which the communities have depended on Cache Creek?

Native people farmed as long as it’s been known that they were here tending the wilds. When Hudson Bay Company and the other trapping companies came through here, Cache Creek supposedly got its name because they cached the pelts there. Then, of course, there’s fishing and agricultural irrigation that happens today. With more need for residential water, farming the creek is even more important now probably than it was then. 

Could you speak a bit about why this place is important to you?

As we sit here in Jan T. Lowrey’s memorial grove, it shows that he continued the pioneer spirit of his father. Jan was always a passionate person about the creek and the watershed. Jan and I spent many many hours in the hills talking and philosophizing and thinking about politics and how to save the creek and the environment. If you take, you have to give back, because if you take and take, nature will end up taking it back and correct itself in the form of a disaster.

How is that a philosophy applied or practiced within the Wintun nation?

I think the philosophy is very similar to the “give and take and give back,” because it really is all farming. Look at the woodpecker that farms worms and puts the acorns in the tree and comes back when the worm is eating them, he is farming. It’s all the same philosophy; you have to give back. When you don’t, and I think that many people, not only Native Americans but also European people, when they were tribes, did the same thing. I think it’s a common philosophy, but unfortunately a lost philosophy. You can go to a supermarket and seemingly buy what you want, but it’s not the same.

What can you tell me in regards to water and the movement of water through this preserve?

Cache Creek is a major watershed coming from Clear Lake. I’m kind of a person that is old fashioned, but sometimes, modern technology is actually proven to be better and okay. Now we have that Cache Creek dam, where we actually have water flowing from it. All of the water went to agriculture, which is very important to me because I’m a rancher. Below that dam, water flows, it flows and continues past this great place here, the Cache Creek Preserve. It makes a difference. The more water you have, the more opportunity there is for life. We have that opportunity now, in modern times.

Could you tell me about your childhood growing up on the ranch, or perhaps a specific episode that you remember very clearly growing up on the ranch and working?

Summers were great because you had fishing and deer hunting but you also had almond harvest on the ranch my grandparents owned. My grandparents hired, in my time, the two same guys every year from Mexico. I got to work with the men. It was hard work, all hand work. Everybody had their own industry at their farm, not so commercialized as now. I understand the need for commercialization but the one thing about our valley was the organic farms. Even though it’s highly commercialized, it’s still going back to the basic agrarian family feeling, which is important.

Could you explain again how technology has affected the types of farming that developed here?

With the advent of better pumps, solar pumps, and better technology for farming, the area has really come back and become a major organic-growing region as well as a cattle region. Before they had water there, they used to call it the Egypt country. They used to say you couldn’t raise anything, not even a ruckus; only dust, because it was so dry. Now there’s water and a lot of large commercial farms.

Organic farming has moved more towards agrarian?

What I meant by that was that it seems very “mom and pop” and family style, but it’s very commercial and large. The valley feeds many people in the bay area, but it somehow captures that old agrarian family farm idea. So, it’s still alive and well, even though it’s actually large. Even if you go see it, it seems like it’s very family oriented and very labor-intensive, so a lot of people are put to work and it’s very healthy.

Are there any other insights that you’d like to share about the Cache Creek Nature Preserve or about its position in society?

Cache Creek is a model you can come to and see how it sustains life. It’s a circle of life. If people work together as a community, you can re-create and use it as a healthy and natural environment that can enhance your way of life and do the same for the people around you.

Written by: 
Corina Silva

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