Since 1999, Ventura County Public Works Agency – Watershed Protection (Watershed Protection) has engaged in a multi-stakeholder effort to remove the obsolete Matilija Dam (muh-TIL-i-hah) from Matilija Creek, the Ventura River’s largest tributary. The Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project (MDERP or Project) is a watershed-scale endeavor with multiple components that will enhance the Ventura River watershed to benefit native wildlife, restore ecosystem function, and enhance local water resilience.
The benefits of Project investments over the next 10+ years will include:
- Modernizing downstream infrastructure to enhance flood protection, water supply reliability and community climate resilience while addressing potential liabilities related to the obsolete dam and associated facilities;
- Catalyzing job creation and economic stimulus at the local, regional and statewide levels;
- Restoring natural sediment transport and ecosystem function to enhance floodplain, riparian and near-shore coastal habitats;
- Enhancing outdoor recreation opportunities and equitable access to the watershed’s natural amenities for present and future generations;
- Conserving water and protecting habitat through sustained treatment of Giant Reed and other invasive plant species; and
- Renewing access to prime spawning and rearing habitat in the Matilija Creek headwaters for the federally-endangered southern California steelhead.
The essential components of the Project can be found on the Overview page, with more detailed information provided elsewhere throughout the site.
Please see Notices and Highlights below for a summary of recent and forthcoming events and other updates.
We appreciate your interest in this comprehensive effort to re-wild the Ventura River headwaters while helping to prepare downstream communities for a more resilient water future. We look forward to your comments and suggestions to help ensure that MatilijaDam.org serves as a reliable source of information about the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project. Please visit the Project landing page at Ventura County Public Works Agency for additional information.
Notices & Highlights
Presentation to Board of Supervisors – On Tuesday May 16, 2023, the Ventura County Public Works Agency Director shared an overview of the MDERP and recent Project updates with the Ventura County Board of Supervisors. The final Board meeting agenda and supporting materials were posted at the Board of Supervisors’ webpage on Thursday May 11 along with instructions for the interested public to join the meeting in-person and/or virtually. Supporting materials, minutes and a recording of the meeting are now available under Archived Meetings (same link as above).
Wildlife Conservation Board Grant – The State Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved a $4.3 million grant award to Ventura County Public Works Agency – Watershed Protection on February 16, 2023. These funds – including a $400,000 contingency reserve – will help the MDERP move forward with final design plans for Matilija Dam removal, and with final design plans and CEQA compliance for essential downstream flood protection projects. VC Star Article 2/23/2023
State Coastal Conservancy Grant – The State Coastal Conservancy (SCC) Board approved a $358,000 grant award to Watershed Protection on February 2, 2023 for additional MDERP sediment studies and for technical assistance from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR).
Post-Dam Removal Visioning – On February 23 in Ojai, and on February 22 and 25 in Ventura, the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy (OVLC) kicked off a series of local discussions on the future Matilija Creek and Ventura River watersheds following Matilija Dam removal. Topics included the potential for enhanced access to recreational lands, restoration of wildlife habitat, preservation of open space, protection of cultural and historical resources, and others. For more information on these and future meetings, please visit Seek the Creek at OVLC.org.
Santa Ana Boulevard Bridge Ribbon Cutting – On Monday October 17, 2022, the Ventura County Public Works Agency hosted a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the Santa Ana Boulevard Bridge Replacement Project. Funded by a 2019 grant of $13.4 million from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), the new bridge project was completed near the end of 2022 as the first downstream implementation component of the Current Project.
Fall 2022 Updates – On Thursday October 6, 2022, Watershed Protection and MDERP partners updated community members and stakeholders on the Project’s technical studies, design and implementation plans, funding efforts, CEQA studies and other recent developments. These updates were shared virtually as part of the regular October meeting of the Ventura River Watershed Council (VRWC). Later that same day, Watershed Protection and its technical consultants shared a variety of more detailed updates on the Project’s technical and design planning efforts. Agendas, presentations and recordings for both meetings (and for all prior MDERP Fall and Spring Updates) are available on the Presentations sub-page under Reports & Presentations.