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Oswego Lake portrayed wrongly

The recently published citizen's view submitted by a local arborist titled, 'What's the future - if any - of access to Oswego Lake?' contains several fundamental misconceptions regarding the ownership, access and public benefits of Oswego Lake.

The claim cited in this article that the state of Oregon owns Oswego Lake is simply not supported by state law. The problems with the author's argument are too numerous to detail here but they essentially ignore the important fact that Oswego Lake is an artificially expanded power reservoir and treated differently than a natural lake in a publicly owned reserve. The citizens whose homes border the main water body have been assessed millions of dollars to enhance water quality, prevent the introduction of invasive aquatic species, remove large quantities of silt coming into the lake from surrounding streams and storm water facilities and assure safe recreational use for the limited number of users the reservoir can safely accommodate.

Those assessments, coupled with a FEMA grant, were also used this year to install a much bigger gate and spillway at the McVey Street dam to increase the corporation's flood-fighting capability. The reservoir is carefully and professionally managed by the Lake Oswego Corporation whose staff includes an environmental specialist, power generation and dam operators, a water safety and licensing manager and a water-born patrol for safety, emergency response and enforcement.

Given the way in which Oswego Lake was created and is situated, access to it is understandably restricted, but this is a far cry from the author's inference that the lake does not convey a multitude of public benefits to all of our citizens and our visitors.

Two improved swim parks provide public access for swimming. The sweeping lake views from Millennium Plaza and Sundeleaf Parks provide enjoyment for all of our citizens and visitors as well as vital economic activity for our many local retailers and business owners. The real estate values throughout the city and even much of the distinction associated with our city - all can be traced at least in part to a beautiful, clean and scenic lake.

The unique ownership and management structure of Oswego Lake has resulted in a delicate balance of environmental, economic and recreational priorities for almost 100 years and is one of the main reasons so many of us choose to call Lake Oswego home.

Doug Thomas, Lake Oswego, is the board president of the Lake Oswego Corporation.