The Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project is a unique public-private partnership initiative to remove the obsolete Matilija Dam from California’s Ventura River watershed.

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 publications.

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 also look forward to your comments and suggestions to help ensure that this new version of serves as a reliable and up-to-date source of information about the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project.

Notices & Highlights

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 $13.4M from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the new bridge – the first downstream implementation component to be completed as part of the Current Project – has been open in both directions since June of this year, and is slated for completion by the end of 2022.

Robles Phase 2 Design Planning – Watershed Protection, Casitas Municipal Water District and other MDERP partners have requested a full proposal from the highest-ranking respondent to the Project’s September 2, 2022 Request for Qualifications for the Robles Phase 2 Design Planning project. (The Phase 2 work will include alternatives refinement, conceptual design planning, feasibility studies, and up to 30% preliminary design for future sediment transport, water supply, fish passage and flood protection improvements at the Robles Diversion and Fish Passage Facility, and associated flood protection design improvements for the community of Meiners Oaks). Statements of Qualification from all interested respondents were due by October 7, 2022, and interviews with the top three respondents were held on October 19. The requested full proposal is due by early December, with hopes for a final contract (subject to Board of Supervisors approval) by mid-January 2023.     

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 Documents page under Community and Technical Updates.

Camino Cielo Bridge Replacement Grants – On August 25, 2022, the California Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved a $1.310M grant agreement with Watershed Protection to complete CEQA updates and final design plans for a new (replacement) bridge at the Camino Cielo low-flow crossing near State Highway 33. The WCB-funded design planning project will be undertaken in partnership with the State Coastal Conservancy (SCC) through their 2021 grant to Watershed Protection for $810K, bringing the combined Final Design and Environmental Compliance Project budget to more than $2M total.