Other Project Elements
The following Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project (MDERP) elements have been completed or are ongoing.
The Matilija Creek Giant Reed Removal Project was initiated in 2007 with a State Water Resources Control Board grant to improve habitat quality and to reduce flood and fire risks in advance of Matilija Dam removal. Non-native plants, including giant reed (Arundo donax), have been removed or re-treated approximately 1-3 times per year since 2007, allowing native plants to re-colonize the floodplain ecosystem. Two more spring season retreatments are planned for 2024 and 2025 in more than 1,200 acres upstream of SR 150 along 15 river miles of the Ventura River and Matilija Creek.
In 2008, VCPWA – Watershed Protection purchased the Matilija Hot Springs property through a grant from the State Coastal Conservancy for the long-term purpose of habitat and resource protection, open space preservation, and public access, and for interim use as a staging area for project construction activities. The site was also available for interim use by others until the remaining structures were destroyed in the 2017 Thomas Fire.
In 2009, VCPWA – Watershed Protection constructed two potable groundwater wells near Foster Park. The wells were drilled and capped as possible MDERP water mitigation for the City of Ventura to offset potential reductions in surface water diversions due to increased turbidity following Matilija Dam removal.
In 2011, the CA Natural Resources Agency granted VCPWA – Watershed Protection funding under its California River Parkways Trailhead Grant Program to design and construct an equestrian trail and walkway along with parking and staging areas at the Old Baldwin Road Trailhead adjacent to the Ventura River.
In 2019, VCPWA – Watershed Protection received a grant from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife that supported replacement of the old Santa Ana Boulevard Bridge with a new bridge constructed by VCPWA Roads and Transportation. The old bridge created a bottleneck in the Ventura River near Oakview, narrowing the channel and constricting the floodway so that sediment would accumulate upstream during large storm events. The new, longer and taller replacement bridge allows water to move more freely through this reach, reducing flood risks while increasing natural sediment transport.