Throughout the August 2023 Winchester Dam repair process, Ryan Beckley, president of the Winchester Water Control District and contractor for the August 2023 Winchester Dam repairs, made modifications to the dam repair plan that were not approved in his permit.

Curiously, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) inspectors, who are supposed to be enforcing the permit as written (like they do on all the other rivers and at other dams in Oregon) are simply rubber-stamping their approval to each noncompliant phase of Beckley’s construction – things that should have been included in the ODFW’s permit approval but were not.

This is precisely the opposite of the self-described mandate posted on ODFW’s website: “Protecting and enhancing Oregon’s fish and wildlife, and the habitats they use, for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations is at the heart of what we do.”

This is sheer hypocrisy.

And yet, it is as if Ryan Beckley – Svengali-like – seems to be pulling the strings that control each and every move Curt Melcher, Director of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife makes in matters pertaining to the North Umpqua River and the Winchester Dam – and not the other way round.

According to retired North Umpqua River biologist Jeffrey Dose. “In my view, the biggest failures were by the various state and federal agencies in, essentially, rubber-stamping the well described adverse impacts to the North Umpqua River, its ecosystem, it’s cultural history, and it’s native aquatic resources like salmon, steelhead, and Pacific lamprey have been compromised due to the agency’s failure to meet their responsibilities.”

“I am extremely disappointed in the current situation at Winchester Dam,” said Kirk Blaine, president of Steamboaters and Southern Oregon, and southern Oregon coordinator for the Native Fish Society. “ODFW knew this would happen and they said yes for the convenience of the landowners who want to maintain their private water ski lake at the lowest cost possible.”