Cachuma Lake, a crystalline mountain resource, is disappearing

When Jeff Bozarth retired after 20 years as a police officer and signed up as a park ranger here last spring, he knew what to expect and relished every bit of it.

Hidden in the folds of the Central Coast mountains, Cachuma Lake featured the largest campground in Santa Barbara County and one of the area's most popular outdoor playgrounds.

Here, Bozarth knew, was 190,000 acre-feet of crystalline water that splashed into clay washes and lapped at primeval rock formations. There would be bobcats, wild pigs, migrating grebes who acted out an elaborate courtship dance. Hawks would ride the thermals — plumes of air that jetted up the cliffs and allowed the birds to stay motionless in the air without rising, without falling, without even flapping their wings.

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