Letter: Rethink Removal

Letter to the Editor

Again, the ugly head of the Rindge Dam removal has reared up. The Army Corps of Engineers and California State Parks, again spearheaded by Malibu Lagoon-destroyer Suzanne Goode, are heading up this wrong-headed project. 

The rationale for spending $160 million or so over eight years to bring down the dam and cart off the silt behind it: To allow Steelhead trout to swim another 10 miles upstream in Malibu Creek. (That is about $1.6 million per fish, I figure.) Under the Army Corps plan, the silt would be trucked directly to the Malibu Pier area and dumped; the State Parks plan is even more environmentally damaging, having the dump trucks haul the silt from Malibu Canyon to the Calabasas Landfill and then on the 101 Freeway to Ventura, where it would be barged down to the Malibu shoreline. The thousands of truckloads of sand and gravel removed would take seven or eight years to complete, clogging traffic on Malibu Canyon Road and PCH. 

I do a lot of hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains, and have discovered two things:

1. I have seen 30 or so steelhead trout in several remote pools of water deep in the Santa Monica Mountains, in other streams than the three cited by Goode. I question the number of 100 steelhead trout cited by her; I think there are many more steelhead trout thriving in our mountain streams today. 

2. I have hiked several times up Malibu Creek and to the top of the Rindge Dam, and there is no way steelhead trout will be able to surmount the rock cliffs and waterfalls that will remain after the dam is brought down. Even spawning salmon could not do it. 

Spending $160 million on this project is a waste of money, and will damage the environment. There is also the possibility that during times of heavy rains, Sierra Retreat and Malibu Lagoon could be flooded and damaged severely after the dam’s removal. 

Use the $160 million for other needed projects, such as repairing or rebuilding the trails in the Santa Monica Mountains, or purchasing and preserving land there for public use. 

Ted Vaill