Ryan Beckley, Winchester Warer Control District president

Forty-seven-year old Ryan Beckley is both the president of the Winchester Water Control District (WWCD) and the owner of Terra Firma Foundation Systems – the contractor entrusted with the August 2023 “repairs” at the Winchester Dam in Roseburg, Oregon.

But Beckley doesn’t even live in Douglas County. According to his company’s website, his home is in West Linn, Oregon, 165 miles away.

When Beckley recently sold his residential property overlooking the Winchester Dam, he suddenly found himself without a local address. He apparently persuaded his girlfriend, who owns property in the WWCD, to add his name to her property title, so he could continue to serve as president of the WWCD board of directors – and award the Winchester Dam repair contract to a company he owns, TerraFirma Foundation Systems.

What could possibly go wrong? Beckley’s track record as WWCD president speaks for itself.  

“[WWCD]has been trying to run this dam cheap for years and years…” says Jim McCarthy of WaterWatch of Oregon, a nonprofit organization that protects and restores Oregon rivers. “These people can’t be trusted to own a dam.”

According to McCarthy, Ryan Beckley has “never repaired a dam before in his life.”

Beckley claims that he designed the Winchester Dam repair project – which may be a violation of state statutes regarding the practice of engineering intended to protect public safety.

Jim McCarthy explained, “According to his candidate form filed with the county when he ran for the Winchester Water Control District Board, Mr. Beckley does not have an engineering degree. According to the form, he left high school at the 11th grade and did not receive a diploma.”

Like the proverbial fox guarding the hen house, some would consider it a conflict of interest for WWCD president Beckley to invoice the members of the WWCD for dam repair services his own company does (or does not) provide at the Winchester Dam.

But Ryan Beckley’s non-compliance is not limited to his management of the Winchester Dam.

He manages TerraFirma Foundation Systems with the same apparent recklessness and disregard for safety. In the past two years alone, TerraFirma’s trucking division, headquartered in Roseburg, Oregon, has racked up forty-two trucking violations, including nine unsafe driver violations – all reported by the state of Washington (Oregon doesn’t compile this data). Three were driver fitness violations, seven were maintenance violations, and other violations included speeding, uninsured driver, and open container.

• In 2016, the Oregon Construction Contractors Board was forced to take disciplinary actions against TerraFirma for working without a permit.

• In 2018, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined TerraFirma $6,000 for the carbon monoxide poisoning of one Beckley’s employees.

• In 2018, Terrafirma was cited and fined $9,620 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for a motor vehicle safety violation.

• In 2019, OSHA fined Terra Firm $420 for safety violations deemed “serious” during a routine inspection of their Tigard, Oregon, office.

In August 2023, Beckley told a reporter from the Roseburg News-Review that he personally designed the current dam repair project as a “permanent solution — a fix for 100 years to come.”

“There’s never been a salvage effort anywhere comparable to that whatsoever,” Beckley declared. “I’m not trying to paint a picture that we were callous about it or we disregarded it, but we’re spending almost a quarter of a million dollars on fish salvage.”

Sadly, Beckley’s words and deeds do not align.

In an abundance of self-interest, Ryan Beckley awarded the August 2023 dam repair contract to a company he owns, TerraFirma Foundations Systems. Naturally, Ryan Beckley wanted to spend as little of the $3 million dam repair budget as possible, so he could finance a $200,000 remodel on his $2 million home in West Linn, Oregon, and enjoy an extended vacation in Europe while his house was under construction – which he did.

On August 7, 2023, Ryan Beckley drained the private water ski lake behind the Winchester Dam to begin three weeks of repairs as originally ordered by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife back in 2019. Beckley’s permit specified that the water level would be lowered at a rate of no more than two inches per hour to minimize disturbance to the aquatic habitat.

But witnesses report that Beckley actually drained the lake at midnight (thinking no one would monitor his misdeeds) and did so at two feet per hour, exponentially faster than permitted, devastating downstream fish habitat and impeding fish migration.

Ryan Beckley now has the distinction of being personally responsible for the largest fish kill on an Oregon River in 2023. On October 7, 2023, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife slapped the Winchester Water Control District and their dam “repair” contractors with an unprecedented $27.5 million dollar fine.

Beckley’s attorney has apparently imposed a gag order on his client to prevent him from making statements to the press that he knows are false.

Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Every time the Winchester Water Control District “repairs” the Winchester Dam, hundreds of thousands of native fish are killed and the drinking water supply for one out of three residents of Douglas County is contaminated. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality fined WWCD’s previous contractor, Basco Logging, Inc.,  – owned by yet another WWCD board member Juan Yraguen – $58,378 fine for pouring pollutants and cement into the river that entered the public drinking water system and killed thousands of lampreys, steelhead, and salmon

The only solution is to stop them before they do it again.

Bring down the dam.

Bring back the fish and the jobs.