Winchester Dam: Setting a River Free is a Noble Deed

By Connie Page  |  Feb. 4, 2024  |  Roseburg News-Review

I have seen multiple letters and programs recently about removing the Winchester Dam. I appreciate all the effort being put forward by local citizens. With over 111,000 citizens in Douglas County, and only 100-plus benefitting from this dam, I am surprised we have not heard more calls for removal.

The historical value of a river that has been flowing for millennia far outweighs any historical value in a badly maintained and useless dam. The river has supplied humans and wildlife with clean, flowing water; habitat in its riparian areas; habitat for what was once our plentiful fish, and so much more.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes that dam removals not only help re-establish native fish populations, but improve water quality as the river’s riparian areas return to their natural states. Did you know the Iron Gate Dam, the J.C. Boyle Dam and the Copco I and II Dams are being removed from the Klamath River? The Gold Ray Dam and Savage Rapids Dam were removed in the earlier 2000s. Summer steelhead on the Rogue River fare well compared to the disastrous runs we have been seeing on the Umpqua.

“For nearly 100 years, dams on the Klamath River have blocked salmon and steelhead trout from reaching more than 400 miles of habitat, encroached on Indigenous culture, and harmed water quality for people and wildlife. But now, four dams – J.C. Boyle, Copco 1 and 2, and Iron Gate – built between 1908 and 1962, are coming down. This river restoration project will have lasting benefits for the river, salmon, and communities throughout the Klamath Basin.”

Other communities know the disastrous effects of dams. We need to remove this dam from our beautiful Umpqua River.

Connie Page, Roseburg

This opinion piece originally appeared in the Roseburg News-Review on Feb. 4, 2024.