Renovated Dam and Recreational Lake Open to Community at Mather

  • Published
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

For the past 25 years Mather Lake has provided local residents a serene place perfect for fishing, picnicking and exploring.


Mather Lake is adjacent to Mather Regional Park and Mather Golf Course. Over the years the lake has become the centerpiece of the 1,434-acre park and serves as a recreational amenity for the community as well as a home for a variety of wildlife.


During the 1950s, the Air Force created Mather Lake near the eastern boundary of Mather Air Force Base for flood control by damming Morrison Creek with earthen embankments. When Mather closed in 1993, the lake and adjacent land, an area larger than San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, was opened for public use.


“Mather Lake is a beautiful spot for people to come out and enjoy a variety of activities,” said Doug Self, the Air Force’s Base Environmental Coordinator for Mather. “Visitors can hike and fish or just have lunch and enjoy the scenery. It’s just one of the many great examples of reuse at the former base.”


Today, all 5,718 acres of the former Mather Air Force Base have been transferred to local control and Mather has become a hub of general aviation and industry. Approximately 6,600 people work at the former base, employed by more than 60 individual businesses.


Recently, the County of Sacramento completed a construction project funded by the Air Force Civil Engineer Center (AFCEC) to repair the dam at Mather Lake and construct a new spillway. The work began in July 2017 and took four months to complete. 


In the 1950s, the Air Force constructed the original earthen dam for flood control and recreation. Today, the Mather Dam consists of the original embankments combined with a spillway structure in the northwest corner of the lake. 


Since the time the military mission departed Mather in 1993, the Air Force has worked with the County of Sacramento on property transfer and redevelopment of the base, including Mather Dam. 


Upon transfer of the property from Federal ownership to the County, the dam would fall under California State Division of Safety of Dams jurisdiction. During the property transfer negotiations, it was determined that Mather Dam did not meet state standards. 


In response to County concerns, the Air Force agreed to provide funding through a Cooperative Agreement to the County to plan, engineer and execute the work required to improve the dam. 


In December 2012, the Air Force executed the Cooperative Agreement with the County and in May 2013, Mather Dam transferred from the Air Force to Sacramento as part of an Economic Development Conveyance.


“We agreed to provide funding to bring the dam up to state standards,” said Phil Mook, Chief of the AFCEC’s Western Region Execution Branch. “Safety and flood control improvements including an entirely new spillway and replacing foundation materials under the dam was accomplished.  Mather Dam will provide a great recreational asset to the community for years to come.”