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Statement of Purpose


Removing Matilija Dam:

Final Design:

Feasibility Study:

Early Progress:

Background Information:

About the Matilija Coalition:

Contact us


Matilija Coalition Watershed Activities:

The following is a listing of public events co-sponsored by the Matilija Coalition. To receive notices of upcoming events, drop us an e-mail to get on our e-mail notification list.

Winter-Spring 2003:

Explore the River and Farmont Ranch
Saturday Jan. 11 & Saturday Feb. 8, 2003
Hike the Farmont Ranch property with Jim Engel. Watershed restoration depends upon preservation of open space lands. Once planned for housing and a golf course, this 1566 acre property will be the largest area protected by a nonprofit in the history of Ventura County! Limited to the first 30 people.
Call 646-0251 or

Native Plants and Habitat Assessment
Saturday March 8, 2003 9:30am - noon
Join David Magney, consulting botanist, for an overview of the vegetation mapping he conducted for the Feasibility Study baseline conditions report. We will walk the river between Hwy 150 and the Robles Diversion and learn the significance of native plants to the ecosystem.
Meet at the corner of Meyer Rd and Oso Rd. Take Rice Road north from Hwy 150, turn/jog left at Fairview. Turn left onto Meyer Rd at the bottom of the hill. Wear hiking boots. Contact Paul: 648-4005

Stream Team -  1st Saturday of every month

The Ventura River Volunteer Watershed Monitoring program is now beginning its third year. Baseline water quality data is an important part of watershed restoration efforts, and a great way to get involved. The Ventura River Stream Team meets the first Saturday of the month (except where noted with asterisk), at the 9am at the Surfrider Office 239 W Main St. Ventura next to "Cycles for Rent". This is a great way to get out and learn more about our watershed while helping collect valuable water quality data!

Jan 11*, Feb 1, March 1, April 5, May 3, June 7, July 5, Aug 2, Sept 6, Oct 4, Nov 1, Dec 6

Volunteers Needed! To get involved contact:
Leigh Ann Grabowsky, Program Coordinator
(805) 563-5665

Please check out the Channelkeeper website for more details


Field Trip – Matilija Creek Sat. August 10, 2002  8:30 – 11:30 am

Join Jim Edmondson, conservation director of CalTrout, for a unique learning experience on Matilija Creek.  A short hike will allow us to visit the special trout habitat above Matilija Dam.  Jim will teach us about the conditions that trout need to survive in our Southern California rivers, and the value of this watershed. 
Meet at the Forest Service trailhead at the end of Matilija Canyon Road.  Be prepared to hike about 3 miles round trip.  Wear hiking shoes, sun hat, and bring plenty of drinking water and a snack. 

MATILIJA DAM Field Trip - March 23, 2002 9:30am-12:00 p.m

Sediment and Matilija Dam - Engineers will discuss core sampling and geotechnical investigations relating to the Feasibility Study. We will examine and discuss the sediment core samples, then visit the dam site. Meet at the County Public Works Yard on Hwy 33 near Ojai, 0.8 miles west of the Hwy33/Hwy150 “Y”, on the right just past El Roblar Dr.

Public Scoping Meeting for the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study

January 31st, 2002, 7:00-9:00 p.m., at the Ventura County Government Center, Hall of Administration Building, in the Supervisors Chambers, 800 South Victoria Ave., Ventura, California. The purpose of this meeting is to raise issues or concerns in advance of preparing an Environmental Impact Statement as well as solicit input from the public for the Feasibility Study (Study). The public, as well as Federal, State, and local agencies are encouraged to actively participate in the scoping process by attending the meeting and/or submitting data, information, and comments pertaining to environmental, historic preservation, and socioeconomic issues to be addressed in the Study.


Sunday November 18, 2001 - 8th Annual Salmon Run

A 5k fun run up the Ventura River to benefit the Matilija Coalition. This morning of fun will include great prizes, post-race entertainment, exhibits and refreshments for the whole family.

Check-in Time: 7:30 a.m.; Race Time: 8:30 a.m.

For more information, call Real Cheap Sports: (805)648-3803

Saturday July 21, 2001: Estuary Walk and Interpretive Tour

Meet at the Main St Bridge parking lot by the Ventura River, 9am
Paul Jenkin, environmental director of the Ventura Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation and founder of the Matilija Coalition, and David Magney from the California Native Plant Society (CNPS), lead a walking tour of the Ventura River Estuary. Paul discussed coastal erosion, the proposed beach restoration project at Surfers Point, and the long-term benefits of removing Matilija Dam. David guided us through the recently restored estuary, a demonstration of a native plant restoration to benefit local wildlife.

This event was co-sponsored by the Southern California Steelhead Coalition (SCSC). The summer 2001 SCSC meeting was held at 11 am at Patagonia, followed by a tour of Matilija Dam and the Robles Diversion from 1-3 pm.

Saturday May 12, 2001- Creek walk and Arundo Survey

Matilija Canyon trailhead - 9 am
Use GPS to survey Arundo donax (giant reed)

Thursday May 17 - Matilija video and group discussion

Real Cheap Sports - 7 pm - Dam removal and watershed restoration
7th Annual Salmon Run 5K & 3K Walk
When: Sunday, Nov. 19, Check-in Time: 7:30 a.m.; Race Time: 8:30 a.m.

Where: Patagonia (corner of Main and Olive streets), Ventura

What: Certified 5K course along flat dirt road

Runners, walkers and families are invited to join Patagonia, Great Pacific Iron Works, Real Cheaps Sports and co-sponsors for a 5K run & 3K walk benefiting the Matilija Coalition, a local, nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring the Ventura River. This morning of fun will include great prizes from Patagonia, Boreal, Native Eyeware, Chart House, Montrail and others, post-race entertainment, environmental exhibits and refreshments for the whole family.

Saturday Nov. 11, 2000 - Creek Walk & Open House

Where: Matilija Environmental Science Area (MESA)

210 Matilija Canyon Rd

When: Saturday Nov. 11, 10am-4pm

Join local naturalists for a guided hiking tour of Matilija creek and reservoir. The focus will be on dam removal, habitat restoration, and the unique history of Matilija canyon.

We are offering two hikes: 10am - 12pm and 2pm - 4pm. Information booths and a variety of demonstration activities will occur throughout the day in the MESA campground.

Bring good walking shoes (and shoes to get wet if you want to take the lake hike), drinking water, lunch and snacks, insect repellant, and sunscreen. Please no alcohol and no pets.

Saturday, October 14, 2000 - Public tour of Matilija Dam

The Matilija Coalition organized a public tour for those interested in visiting Matilija Dam. An engineer from the Ventura County Flood Control District will explain the demonstration project and issues associated with the eventual removal of the dam. Then a local naturalist will give an interpretive tour of Matilija Creek.

Come and spend a morning with us as we explore a piece of history, a current political issue, a precedent-setting restoration campaign, and an influential part of the local ecosystem: Matilija Dam

WHEN: Saturday, October 14 10 AM - 12 PM

WHERE: Meet at Hwy 33 & Matilija Road

RSVP: Please let us know if you plan to attend this event - (805) 648-4005

August 2000 - Matilija Dam Removal Update

Endangered River Status:

In April, representatives from local environmental organizations joined to highlight the status of the Ventura River as the third most endangered river in the United States. The event was held at the Matilija Dam, the primary culprit behind the river's threatened status. The extensive media coverage on television and in the newspapers has increased the momentum of public support for the removal of the dam.

Appraisal Study Complete:

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Reclamation has completed an Appraisal Report for Matilija Dam Removal. The report consists of an initial evaluation of several proposed methods for removing the dam and the estimated 6 million cubic yards of impounded sediments. Initial cost estimates range from $20 million to $180 million. This wide range reflects alternate methods of handling the huge quantity of sediment. Allowing river flood flows to transport the sediment during a phased removal of the dam is the least expensive method, but has the highest risk of downstream flooding. The highest cost alternative utilizes mechanical transport of sediment by slurry pipeline to the beach (just like harbor dredging). This method would have the highest level of control, and would provide immediate benefit to the beaches. It is likely that the final project will include some combination of the alternative methods: phased natural transport of sediment, mechanical removal of sediment, and stabilization of sediment and site restoration.

More study is required to refine and quantify impacts and to choose the optimal removal method(s). The Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation will be working to gain funding and authorization for a Feasibility Study, the next step in this long process.

Demonstration Project:

The next big event will be the arrival of the Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt on October 12 of this year to launch a demonstration project at Matilija Dam. The project will entail removing a section of the concrete 'wing' of the dam. This project will demonstrate the feasibility and political support for the decommissioning of Matilija Dam.

Matilija Coalition Formed:

In order to maintain the momentum and increase public awareness, several environmental groups have formally joined forces as the Matilija Coalition. The coalition includes the Ventura County Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, Patagonia Inc., Friends of the Ventura River, the Environmental Defense Center, and the Environmental Coalition. These local groups are strengthened through the participation of American Rivers in Washington, DC, and the California-based Friends of the River and CalTrout. The Matilija Coalition will work as the private sector arm of the efforts to remove Matilija Dam from the Ventura River.

If you have a group that would like to learn more about this issue, please contact Paul Jenkin ((805) 648-4005 - to arrange a presentation.


Monday, April 10 - Matilija Dam Press Conference

The environmental group American Rivers listed the Ventura River as the third most endangered in the nation. The press conference was to announce this designation. The following is a transcript of the Surfrider press speech delivered by Paul Jenkin:

More than 5 years ago Jim Edmondson gave a CALTROUT presentation to our local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation - this opened our eyes to the effect of this dam on our beaches, and we have been working on this issue ever since.

The Surfrider Foundation is currently dealing with the issue of beach erosion around the world. When we look at Ventura beaches, only 15 miles downstream of here, we see an eroded bike path and parking lot at Surfers Point, a seawall that currently needs $1.5 million in repairs, and a groin field that had to be put in to retain the sand that we do have left in order to protect houses on the beach. These symptoms of a receding shoreline are in large part due to this dam that traps more than a third of the sand that the Ventura River once delivered to the coast.

Today Matilija dam is obsolete because of the sediment built up behind it - there’s basically 50 years worth of beach trapped behind this dam. Removing this dam and putting all that sand back on the beach where it belongs will help greatly in solving our regional beach erosion problems. There’s enough sand that upon its initial removal it would widen all the beaches in south Ventura County by 30 feet. And in the future the beaches will continue to benefit from the restored supply of sand that a free flowing river will provide. We really see this as the long term solution to save our beaches that are endangered by erosion and seawalls.

The Ventura Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation strongly supports the efforts of all the government agencies currently working on this precedent setting opportunity. We believe that the removal of Matilija dam will truly demonstrate how watershed restoration through dam removal can have far reaching benefits today and for future generations.

©Matilija Coalition, All Rights Reserved, 2002.
Page last updated: Jan 2003