The Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project is a unique public-private partnership initiative to remove the obsolete Matilija (muh-TIL-i-hah) 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 Matilija Dam 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 and restore ecosystem function.

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

On October 6, 2021, Watershed Protection and Project partners presented the MDERP’s Fall 2021 Community Updates in a virtual meeting hosted by the Ventura River Watershed Council.  More in-depth Technical Updates were presented on the following day – October 7, 2021 – by Watershed Protection and the Project’s lead technical consultants. Presentations and recordings from both meetings will soon be available on the Documents page under Community and Technical Updates, where materials from the MDERP’s Spring 2020, Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 Updates can also be found. 

On June 7, 2021 the County of Ventura’s Public Works Agency and its Transportation Department celebrated the start of construction on the Santa Ana Boulevard Bridge Replacement Project with an outdoor groundbreaking ceremony near the Ventura River crossing. To learn more, please see About/Project Elements/Santa Ana Boulevard Bridge

On March 25, 2021 the California State Coastal Conservancy awarded $734,730 to Watershed Protection to advance design planning and update environmental documentation for the Camino Cielo Bridge Replacement Project.

The comment period for Public Scoping for the preparation of a Subsequent Environmental Impact Report for the MDERP closed on October 14, 2020. A Draft SEIR focused on Matilija Dam removal is currently under development, with public release and community meetings anticipated by early 2022. Please see the Environmental Compliance page for additional information.