[Letter to the editor published in the Roseburg, Oregon News-Review, August 30, 2023]

Tear down the dam

I dream of a day when we can catch salmon and steelhead in free running waters of the North Umpqua.

I hope you share the dream, too—not just for ourselves. for you and me, but for generations to come.

I dream of big, strong, fighting fish from fast-flowing cold waters.

It’s just a dream now. It’s a dream of once was, and it’s a dream of what could be again.

What stands in the way of it becoming reality is the Winchester Dam.

The dam’s been in the news a lot lately. About 156 property owners “own” the “right” to dam up the river, obstructing the migration of salmon, steelhead, and lamprey.

I believe that the river belongs to all of us. But 156 property owners have arrogated to themselves the right to create a lake on which to water ski, while salmon and steelhead and other fish, seeking their natal waters, die and never spawn.

There are about 112,000 people in Douglas County. Fewer than two people in a thousand in this county control something that belongs to us all, and ruin it for the rest of us. And ruin it for future generations. I believe they have no moral right to take away what belongs to us all.

Make the dream alive for all of us. Tear down this dam.

-Joe Yetter, Azalea, Oregon