Matilija Dam EcoSystem Restoration Project

Environmental Review | Scoping  | CEQA Compliance

 

The Ventura County Public Works Agency – Watershed Protection (VCPWA – WP) is soliciting input from interested persons and agencies as to the scope and content of the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project (MDERP) Subsequent Environmental Impact Report (SEIR). In accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the VCPWA – WP requests that agencies review the project description provided in the Notice of Preparation (NOP) and provide comments on environmental issues related to the statutory responsibilities of the agency. The SEIR will be used by the VCPWA – WP when considering approval of the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project (Project) and by other Responsible and Trustee Agencies to support their discretionary actions related to the Project.

In October 2000, the Ventura County Watershed Protection District (now the VCPWA – WP) initiated the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Study as a joint effort between VCPWA – WP and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop a project resulting in the removal of Matilija Dam. The Project objectives included:  aquatic and terrestrial habitat improvement along Matilija Creek and the Ventura River to restore a viable and abundant run of steelhead trout; restoration of natural sediment transport processes; and an increase in recreation opportunities. The joint National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)/CEQA EIR was certified in 2004. In June 2017, the VCPWA – WP received funding to implement the Matilija Dam Removal 65% Design Planning Project. The updated plan to remove Matilija Dam incorporates new information garnered from recent dam removal projects as well as details regarding proposed modifications to downstream infrastructure. The VCPWA – WP has determined that preparation of an SEIR is warranted to evaluate the revised Project. The SEIR will provide a complete and objective analysis of the revised scheme for dam removal.

In accordance with Section 15162 of the CEQA Guidelines, the VCPWA – WP has determined that an SEIR is warranted to evaluate substantial changes to the previous EIR and to consider new environmental effects. The SEIR will assess the physical changes to the environment that would likely result from the revised dam removal, bridge replacement, and levee improvements including direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts, as well as growth-inducing effects [CEQA Guidelines Section 15126]. The SEIR will analyze all environmental resources required by CEQA and will identify mitigation measures to reduce potentially significant impacts of the proposed Project. The SEIR will also discuss alternatives to the proposed Project, including the no project alternative [CEQA Guidelines Section 15126.6(e)]. The alternatives discussion in the SEIR will evaluate alternatives considered as a means for lessening or avoiding any potentially significant environmental impacts of the proposed Project.

In accordance with CEQA Guidelines Section 15063(a), the VCPWA – WP has determined that an SEIR will be required to satisfy environmental review for the proposed Project as this Project may have a significant effect on the environment. While the SEIR will focus on significant environmental effects, it will also discuss the effects found not to be significant under CEQA Guidelines Section 15128 and potential beneficial effects.

The process of determining the focus and content of the SEIR is referred to as scoping under CEQA Guidelines Section 15083. Scoping helps to identify the range of actions, alternatives, environmental effects, and mitigation measures to be analyzed in depth, and eliminates from detailed study those issues that are not pertinent to the final decision on the proposed Project. Scoping is also an effective way to bring together and address the concerns of the public, affected agencies, and other interested parties. Significant issues may be identified through public and agency comments.

Scoping, however, is not conducted to resolve differences concerning the merits of the Project or to anticipate the ultimate decision on the proposal. Rather, the purpose of scoping is to help ensure that a comprehensive and focused SEIR will be prepared that provides a firm basis for the decision-making process. Members of the public; affected federal, State, and local agencies; interest groups stakeholders; and other interested parties may participate in the scoping process for this Project by providing written comments or recommendations concerning the issues to be analyzed in the SEIR.

 

All interested parties are invited to submit comments on the scope and content of this SEIR throughout the scoping period which starts September 14, 2020 and ends October 14, 2020.

 

To avoid physical gatherings in compliance with restrictions caused by COVID-19, Watershed Protection will conduct an online virtual public scoping comment period instead of the traditional Scoping Meeting. Scoping materials are provided on the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project website (https://www.vcpublicworks.org/wp/mderp/) to provide an overview of the proposed project and an opportunity for the public to ask questions and submit comments.

Comments and questions may also be emailed to mderp@ventura.org. Scoping comments will be addressed in the SEIR analyses.

Watershed Protection is also seeking the views of residents, property owners, and the public regarding issues that should be addressed in the SEIR. All interested parties are invited to submit comments on the scope and content of the SEIR. Responsible and Trustee Agencies may need to use the SEIR when considering permits or other discretionary approvals your agency may issue for the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project.

Comments can be submitted using the button below or by emailing mderp@ventura.org through your email provider. All scoping comments must be received by October 14, 2020.

For general questions, please contact the Project Environmental Planner, Tyler Barns.

Ventura County Public Works Agency – Watershed Protection

Attn: Tyler Barns
800 S. Victoria Ave., #1600
Ventura, CA 93009
(805) 654-2064

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