Rindge Dam

Attractive nuisance in a state park

About the Project

Built in 1926, Rindge Dam is 102 feet tall and 140 feet wide. This concrete dam originally served the agricultural irrigation and water supply needs of its private ranch owner but is now owned by the California Department of Parks and Recreation (State Parks). It was decommissioned in 1967 and is completely silted in with sediments and rocks, representing 70 percent of Malibu Creek’s annual sediment transport. The dam traps 800,000 cubic yards of sediment needed for beach nourishment and erosion control.

Rindge Dam is located in Los Angeles County, within Malibu Creek State Park, approximately 3 miles upstream of the Pacific Ocean. The state park is part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, which is the largest urban national park in the United States and contains archaeological resources from Chumash and Tongva people. It also is a migratory barrier to aquatic and terrestrial species such as the endangered Southern California steelhead—a species uniquely adapted to warm water that many consider key to repopulating streams warming from climate change. Removal of this dam is included in the National Marine Fisheries Service Steelhead Recovery Plan.

Removal planning commenced in 1992 with Congress commissioning the “Malibu Creek Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study,” led by the Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps). After nearly thirty years, the environmental permitting phase is wrapping up with the December 2020 approval by the Corps and State Parks of the Integrated Feasibility Report for the project, which now rests with Congress awaiting approval under the federal Water Resources Development Act. State Parks and California Trout are now developing dam removal pathways that best position the project for success.

Owner: California Department of Parks and Recreation
Size: 102 feet high, 140 feet wide
Project Cost: $200 million
ORF Investment: Planning, funding plan development, project management
Miles Opened: 18
Fish: ESA-listed Southern California steelhead
Status: Project currently working through design, permitting, and fundraising phases

  • Open 18 miles of the Malibu Creek watershed for federally endangered Southern California steelhead
  • Provide quality aquatic spawning and rearing habitat for migratory species
  • Provide sediment delivery during storms to reaches of Malibu Creek and tributaries, the Malibu Lagoon, and Pacific Ocean shoreline
  • Remove a safety hazard, which regularly attracts trespassers who climb and jump from the dam at their personal peril and the state’s liability
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Project Partners

California Department of Parks and Recreation

California Department of Fish and Wildlife

State Coastal Conservancy

Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

California Trout

Sierra Club

Southern California Steelhead Coalition