A 20-year persistent effort by the Matilija Coalition to dismantle the obsolete Matilija dam is paying off. The group, comprised of California Trout, Surfrider Foundation, and Patagonia, has been awarded a $175K grant by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation through the Open Rivers Fund, a program operated by the Resources Legacy Fund (RLF). The Matilija dam, originally constructed to store water for agriculture, no longer serves a purpose since it’s been filled with trapped sediment for decades. Removal of the dam will reestablish freshwater and sediment flows and replenish sandy beaches at the mouth of the Ventura River. Steelhead will be able to once again access upper Matilija Creek, a historic rearing and spawning habitat for the federally endangered species.
The award money will be used to develop a fundraising plan, work plan, write grant proposals to further project work, conduct community outreach, and support the overall design complete details on the overall design for the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project.
Additionally, the County of Ventura was awarded $3.3 million from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife‘s Proposition 1 funds. This grant will be administered by the Ventura County Watershed Protection District to complete engineering design and environmental permitting for the dam removal project. A three-year timeframe will result in a “shovel ready” project by 2020. The successful Prop 1 grant proposal was compiled with support from California Trout, the Matilija Coalition, and the Ventura River Watershed coordinator, along with other agency support.
This project is expected to last several more years, and will need more funding to fully complete the Coalition’s mission.
CalTrout is proud to be a part of this effort to remove obsolete dams and restore river ecosystems to their natural state. Learn more about our other dam projects on the Klamath and Eel river here.
Recent news coverage on the project:
One of the Largest Dam Removals in California History Inches Forward, Water Deeply, August 7, 2017
County gets $3 million for Matiljia Dam removal, Ventura County Star, December 26, 2016
Matilija Dam demolition plan awarded $175,000, Ventura County Star, November 29, 2016