Restoration focus of Matilija
by Kelly Feser Eells
While conservationists, environmentalists, and naturalists
nationwide have taken a keen interest in the move to decommission
Matilija Dam, the movement, like the dam itself, has its roots
in the Ojai Valley.
Paul Jenkin, environmental director of the Surfrider Foundation
of Ventura County, is also coordinator of the Matilija Coalition,
an "alliance of community groups, businesses and individuals
committed to the environmental restoration of the Ventura River
Local partners include Friends of the Ventura River; Patagonia,
Inc.; Environmental Coalition of Ventura County; and the Surfrider
Foundation. The coalition also teams with the Environmental Defense
Center of Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo; Friends
of the River (California); American Rivers,; and CalTrout to
achieve its goal: restoration through the removal of Matilija
As concern for the rapidly-declining steelhead trout (an endangered
species) population, as well as an ever-worsening coastal beach
erosion problem, grew, so did support for restoring Ventura's
- and other compromised rivers' -ecosystems.
Highlighting the effort was the Board of Supervisors' June 2001
approval of a cost share agreement between the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers and the Ventura County Flood Control District, thereby
launching the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility
study currently underway. The $4.2 million dollar study will
include survey and analysis of all geological, biological and
engineering factors associated with the dam's removal, and should
be concluded by the end of 2004.
In the meantime, the Matilija Coalition encourages community
interest and, as part of an on-going public outreach campaign,
is hosting a field trip, the "Matilija Creek Walk,"
on Sat., Aug. 10. Jenkin invites "everyone to join us. We're
meeting at the Matilija trailhead, at the end of Matilija Canyon
Rd., at 8:30 (a.m.) and expect to be done by 11:00."
Jenkin adds that the "focus of the walk will be the steelhead;
Jim Edmondson from CalTrout will be giving a presentation."
Edmondson, CalTrout's Conservation Director, also serves on the
California Advisory Committee on Salmon and Steelhead Trout,
which advises the Director of Fish and Game and the California
legislature on state policy concerning protection and restoration
of salmon and steelhead. The San Francisco-based agency was formed
in 1971, and its "unending battles" include a "decades
long one" with Casitas Municipal Water District, recently
ended with CMWD's agreement to construct a fish ladder and fish
screens on the Ventura River at the Robles Diversion. "Between
the solving of this fish passage issue and the eventual removal
of Matilija Dam up river, the complete restoration of the Ventura
River and Matilija Creek can become a reality."
For further information on the Matilija Creek Walk, please call
Paul Jenkin at 805-648-4005.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
Back to the news