I must say I was quite dismayed with Barbara Mossberg’s visions of waterfront development along the Willamette River (“Designing a Waterfront Town,” 3/8). She describes the Willamette as “a beautiful, large, wild river” and “one of the most beautiful unspoiled rivers in the world.”

With five dams in its headwater tributaries, excessive logging within watershed boundaries and aerial spraying of monoculture forests, the Willamette is hardly unspoiled and definitely not wild. The waterfront development in other American and European cities has tainted rivers passing through them, and watershed development is a main contributor to degradation. 

If we are a society that cares about the environment, we must take steps to achieve a 400-year transformation away from dam building and hard-scaping rivers. That requires us to admit that rivers are wild and dynamic, and that hemming them in diminishes their character and robs them of their beauty and sustainable potential.

There will never be successful salmon and steelhead recovery unless we dream about moving development at least 1,000 feet from the banks, removing dams and considering alternatives for flooding, power and irrigation.

Eugene needs a democratization of development so that each neighborhood can have its own Red Barn Grocery, Sam Bond’s, WOW Hall and culture centers. And when it comes to the Willamette, we traverse a serpentine path to a small opening where we will get to behold a truly wild, beautiful and unspoiled river.

Louis J. Wentz