National Register Status:

During the May 5th 2006 meeting of the California Historical Resource
Commission, 7 people spoke in favor of the nomination. To see a PDF file
of Dr. Parker's presentation and see a list of speakers supporting the
nomination click on this link:

The California Historic Resource Commission members relied heavily on the thoughts
of fellow commission members Donn Grenda (prehistoric archaeologist) and Trish
Fernandez (historic archaeologist). Donn commented that "a tremendous amount of
work has gone into this nomination." "There are no critical flaws in the nomination."
Both commission members agreed that "it is clear that the other sites on the Island
are likely to yield information important in prehistory and one site has already
yielded important information." Commission Chair Luis Hoyos agreed with staff that
"there is very little doubt that the sites hold potential and are significant." He further
stated that "this is a more than reasonably documented nomination." One other
commissioner commented that it was a "fascinating nomination."

The commission voted unanimously to pass the nomination along to the Keeper of
the Register in Washington D.C. for final listing.  Too see the actual National Register
documentation, click on the "nomination" button at right.

Following review on the federal level, the Rattlesnake Island was determined Eligible
for Listing on the National Register of Historic Places, May 2008.
History and Prehistory of Lake County
and Beyond
1878 Painting
Site maintained as a public service by Archaeological Research, PO Box 1353, Lucerne, CA 95458.
Contact:  Copyright 2013, Archaeological Research
Rattlesnake Island has been determined
eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
is listed on the State Register of Historic Resources
and is recognized as a Sacred Site by the
State Native American Heritage Commission.

January, the "owner" applied for permits for 2 septic systems.

April, The Lake County Community Development Department (CDD) asked the "owner"
to submit an archaeological study due to the presence of historic sites on the
property.  The "owner" never submitted any reports.

September, The CDD required that any ground disturbance be monitored by an
archaeologist and that work stop if anything is encountered (to facilitate a more
detailed environmental review).

October, CDD mistakenly issued the zoning clearance permits for the septic systems
without the necessary archaeological review.

November, CDD obtained site record information indicating the sensitivity of the
Island and asked the "owner" to obtain an archaeological report relating to his
project.  The CDD told the Environmental Health (EH) Division that the zoning
clearance for the septic systems was revoked.  EH sent a letter to the "owner"
indicating that his septic permit was revoked.

The "owner" retained and fired 4 archaeological consultants who all indicated that the
resources on the Island were significant.  

December, the CDD sent a letter to the "owner" indicating that only the Planning
Commission had the authority to revoke the septic permits and that a hearing had
been set before the Commission.  The letter requested the "owner" "not commence any
work pending the outcome of the hearing."   The "owner" indicated his disagreement
and requested an administrative appeal (this was put on the January 27th agenda).


January, On the 5th, the "owner" began trenching on the Island for the septic
systems.  The same day the CDD staff received a copy of an archaeological site record
indicating that the septic project was within the boundaries of the largest site on the

County Supervisor Ed Robey contacted CDD and requested that action be taken
immediately to stop the trenching.  A site visit revealed that trenching was taking
place within the cultural deposit.  

County Council assisted in drafting an agenda item to be heard by the Board of
Supervisors (BOS) on the 11th to take action.  At the hearing, the BOS asked the
"owner" if he would voluntarily cease activities and he indicated that he wouldn't.  In
closed session, the BOS asked the County Council to request a temporary restraining
order to stop the work.  

On the 27th, the "owner" appealed the CDD staff requirement for an archaeological
report.  The Planning Commission denied his appeal, revoked the permits and
requested the CDD oversee contracts for the special archaeological studies necessary
before the permit application could be processed according to the California
Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  The CDD notified the "owner" of the amount
needed to proceed with the studies.

October, based on the Island's significance, the State Office of Historic Preservation
(OHP) recommends that Lake County require an EIR for the project.

The "owner" dropped the project and no further contact occurred until October 2007.


No action due to owner's delay.


October, The CDD received a revised site plan from the "owner", showing that many of
the originally proposed improvements had already been constructed (presumably
without permits).  The new plans called for the construction of two homes, two septic
systems, and 209 feet of utility trenches on the Island.  A comparison of these new
plans with those submitted in 2005, indicate that 3,652 linear feet of ground had
already been scraped, graded, or trenched during the intervening years.  The "owner"
submitted fees necessary to proceed with the permit process and an Archaeological
Resource Management Report.   


Owner interference with the archaeological consultant selection process delayed the
selection of a consultant till late 2008.

Following an election, there was a change in the makeup of the Board of Supervisors.  
There was also a change at the CDD with the appointment of a new Director.


January, a contract was executed for an archaeological firm to prepare an
Archaeological Resource Management Report for the project.

August, the archaeological testing report was completed.  A continuous lithic scatter
(chipped stone tool material) was observed throughout the project area.  However, the
"owner" would not allow any materials to be taken to a lab to be cleaned, sorted, or
analyzed.  This prevented a determination of whether the site soils within the project
area were intact or disturbed (the primary purpose for the testing report).  61 shovel
test pits were excavated into one of the island's sites, recovering hundreds of
artifacts, but no identification or analysis was conducted.  The items were just
dumped back into the holes.  This not only prevented a CEQA evaluation of the
project area, but ultimately destroyed that portion of the site that was excavated..  


April, the County contracted archaeologist indicated that the "owner" had forced him
to change the locations of his test holes.  Though wording in his original report
called for an EIR the CDD director allowed the "owner" to edit the report and that
recommendation was removed.  The archaeologist indicated that the "owner" forced
him and the county to only recommend monitoring rather than data recovery, site
avoidance, or any other mitigation alternative suitable in CEQA.  

The County Heritage Commission review of the archaeology testing report determined
that the proposed "monitoring plan" did not fulfill the CEQA requirements for

May, the new CDD Director proposed that the Planning Commission adopt a Mitigated
Negative Declaration for the project.  Following public hearings, the Planning
Commission voted unanimously to require a focused EIR on the project.  The focused
EIR was to address impacts to cultural/archaeological resources and visual impacts.

August, "owner's" attorney threatened to sue the county if the BOS didn't allow him
to appeal the Planning Commission's decision to require an EIR.  BOS decided to
allow the appeal.


August, the "owner" appeals the Planning Commission decision to the Board of
Supervisors.  The new BOS voted 3 to 2 to grant the appeal, approve a Mitigated
Negative Declaration, and issue the permits.  To make matters worse, the CDD
Director waved the winter grading restrictions allowing the "owner" to begin
construction immediately and continue throughout the winter.
such a suit, the County's permit for the project was issued with a
"hold harmless" clause indicating that "owner" must defend the
County in the event any such court action occurs.
Rattlesnake Island, Click to enlarge.