Friday, August 27, 2010

Matilija Falls access blocked

This summer, public access to a portion of Matilija Creek has been closed by the landowner. The popular hike to Matilija Falls now become 'off limits.'

This has also impacted our steelhead surveys. Biologists have been monitoring this section of creek since 2002, and when the landowner denied access this year it created a data gap in the annual population studies.

A sign at the trailhead shows the private inholdings within the National Forest.

In the news:

Last Dam Summer

Good news on dam removal in the State of Washington:

Last April, Olympic National Park began distributing 5,000 "Last Dam Summer" buttons.

Park officials were heralding the 2011 tear-down of the Elwha River's two dams, an estimated $350 million history-making effort to reopen 65 miles of spawning habitat to restore the waterway's once vigorous, now tepid salmon run.

"This is the last summer before big changes come to the Elwha Valley," Olympic National Park spokeswoman Barb Maynes said last week.

The first big change comes in about a week, when Lake Mills closes to the public for eight weeks while a pilot channel is dug to route sediment once 210-foot Glines Canyon Dam and 108-foot Elwha Dam do come down.

The dams' actual demise will not begin until Sept. 15, 2011. The project is scheduled to end by March 2014.

More info on the Elwah Dam project here:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Matilija Dam in the news

2 articles in local news this week: 

Matilija Dam removal sees new light Advocates hire facilitator to find best solution for sediment removal By Shane Cohn 08/26/2010 

It’s a classic environmental battle. All groups involved agree that tearing down the Matilija Dam is vital to restoring the endangered Ventura River, as well as restoring the natural ecosystem. But the issue of where to dispose of the 2 million cubic yards of fine sediment trapped behind the dam has continued to delay a decade-long project. In what could be a last-ditch effort to derive a plan, various federal, state, local and environmental organizations have retained a facilitator to manage the problem of solving the fine sediment disposal. ...But Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, doesn’t need a facilitator. He recently cast the Matilija Dam into the national spotlight when he appeared in an American Express commercial broadcast to 41 million viewers during the 2010 Academy Awards in March.

He stood, indignant, in front of the dam and proclaimed, “I’m a dam buster.” And when Chouinard speaks, people listen.

“Notching it down bit by bit, year after year,” said Chouinard. “That’s what I think is the solution.”

Chouinard said that by incrementally notching down the dam, the release of sediments would not pose a biological threat, and Mother Nature would be able to find a way to regulate; she always does.

Full story:

Matilija Dam removal hits a major block: the sediment behind it 
VCStar, by Zeke Barlow August 24, 2010 

Tearing down Matilija Dam was once touted as a visionary project where many governmental organizations worked with environmental groups to restore an ecosystem that was a victim of the short-sighted hand of man. But after years of planning and negotiating, the project, much like the trapped rocks and sand behind the defunct dam, is stuck. “We basically ended up in a stalemate,” said Paul Jenkin, executive director of the Matilija Coalition, who was against the U.S. Army Corps proposal to permanently store about 2 million cubic yards of fine sediment from the dam along the banks of the Ventura River. The debate over what to do with all that sand and silt has hung up the project indefinitely. Now, an outside professional facilitator is being called in to try to figure a way forward. But even if an agreement is reached, the immediate window to get the more than $150 million in federal funding needed has closed, and it is uncertain when it might open again. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Matilija Dam mediation

Stumped by the impasse over sediment management, the County Watershed Protection District (District) and the State Coastal Conservancy have decided to convene a professional facilitator to help define what steps are needed to best resolve the fine sediment issue.

According to a letter from the agencies, "The Corps of Engineers are amenable to this approach. The facilitation process will consist of two phases. Over the next several weeks, the facilitator will interview a number of stakeholders representing different organizations and interests to assess their concerns about various options to manage the fine sediments. Following those interviews, the District and the Conservancy may then organize a sediment management study group composed of key stakeholders to engage in a collaborative problem-solving effort on this subject. If there is sufficient community support for convening such a study group, the group would begin meeting in late September or early October. The initial objectives for organizing the study group would be to share information and stakeholder concerns, identify potential data gaps, and develop options and a potential action plan for resolving the issues surrounding management of the fine sediments."