Love Letters to Rivers

Love letters to rivers: Over the next few months we’ll be sharing “love letters to rivers” — notes from people reflecting on what rivers mean in their lives. This series is inspired by the multiple Wild and Scenic River bills moving through Congress right now, including the historic River Democracy Act introduced by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden.

Love Rock | Green River, Utah

Sami & Jon Soffer

Sami Soffer is an Oncology Registered Nurse and Jon Soffer is a Nurse Practitioner. They live with their daughter in Hood River, Oregon.

To celebrate Valentine's Day, we're sharing love letters to rivers all month.

We are water people. Every trip we take centers around some body of water — and spending as much time as possible in or around it. So it’s no surprise that we’ve chosen to anchor our family right alongside the Great Columbia River. 

This source of water is as much a part of our home as our very own backyard. It’s where we go to play with our daughter — to watch her squeal as she runs into the water and back out again on a hot summer’s day. It’s where we go to experience moving meditation atop a paddleboard — or to honor our traditions through the ritual of Tashlich on the first day of the Jewish New Year. And as healthcare workers struggling through two years of a global pandemic, the Columbia River has remained steadfast in its offering as a wild and free space for us to go to for respite, movement, and joy.” 

Luke Parr

Luke is a Critical Care Physician in Oregon

Photo of Luke Parr, a Critical Care Physician in Oregon

Over the last few years, we have all learned that in addition to keeping our bodies safe from the spread of COVID, we also need to put more effort into our mental health. While physically staying away from others has been important to reducing COVID outbreaks, I have found that time outdoors has done wonders for my mental state when not in the hospital. I believe in helping to protect Oregon’s rivers and natural spaces so that we all have places to get outside, breathe deep, and relax.

Jenn Kamrar

Jenn is a College Professor located in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon.

Jenn Kamrar, college professor

I grew up on the Puget Sound as part of a fly-fishing family; water was everywhere and everything. Rivers and flows and trout dictated my family’s seasons and patterns. When I decided to move to Oregon after grad school, I ultimately chose the Columbia River Gorge as my home — for the rivers and the land. As an educator, I believe that we must make what we care about central to our personal and professional lives. And so I do this within — and outside — of the classroom. I take my students down the Deschutes in the warmth of late spring, my friends out to cast on the Hood in the cooling fall, and my dog out for runs on the sandy stretches of the Columbia all year long.

Jude Gerace

Jude is a Board Member of the Oregon Timber Trail Alliance

Jude Gerace - Board Member, Oregon Timber Trail Alliance

We build communities wherever we go, be it on our block, throughout our cities or town, or on our adventures! Communities may seem like they are just the people around us, but I think we all know that a place can also hold so much power to bring us together. Portland just wouldn’t be Portland without the Willamette running down the middle, allowing us beautiful bridges to cross, bike and walking paths to commute on, and glimpses at sunsets from vistas above the water. Place has just as big a part in communities as people do.

John Vuylsteke

John is a Lifelong Oregonian

John Vuylsteke - Lifelong Oregonian

As a lifelong Oregonian and outdoorsman, I have seen many changes to this state, but one of the constant joys of my life has been the rivers. Growing up and spending my life in Washington County I have felt lucky to be able to fish the streams and rivers near my house.  The landscape of our watershed was the backdrop to my childhood, and as an adult, it has been great to share the love of our rivers and wild areas with my children.

Dave Gee

Dave is an avid recreationist + Small Business Owner

Dave Gee - Avid Recreationist + Small Business Owner

I spend as much time as I can outdoors, be it skiing Mt Hood, biking in the Gorge, or sunset sails on the Columbia; this area of Oregon is my home. As the owner of Oregon Growers, a specialty foods company in Hood River, it’s important to me to share the amazing agricultural products that we have here in the Gorge with the rest of the US. Like all farming regions, healthy rivers and streams are a critical component to this agricultural community. Both my recreation and my business thrive when we protect the land and waters we rely on to live.

Meg Devo

Meg is a Physician in Oregon

Meg Devo is a Physician

As a doctor, I see everyday the need for people to take care of themselves for the long term. While for most people that means paying attention to their diet, getting some exercise and enough sleep, we also need to take our mental health into account. For me and my family, including my little one, getting outdoors can make such a difference to our attitudes and mental state. The joy of a sunny day on a river is tough to beat!

Carla Lerum

Carla is a Veterinarian

Carla with Miso the cat
Carla with Miso the cat

With everyone adopting pets during COVID, the veterinary industry has done nothing but grow in the last few years. Not only did we all need someone to snuggle up on the couch with, we needed someone to remind us to get outdoors. While work has been super busy, my family does our best to get out and adventure as much as we can, from winter snow cabin hikes to summertime canoe trips, or the never-to-be-missed weekend mornings at 1000 Acres, we are always on or near the water… though Miso the Cat is less inclined for boat trips.

Christopher  Vuylsteke

Christopher is a Lifelong Oregonian

Christopher  Vuylsteke - Lifelong Oregonian

Growing up in Oregon, most of my experiences have been intertwined with the outdoors. From camping, boating and fishing with my family, to adventures to the coast with friends, the landscape of Oregon has always been a big part of my life. The rivers of Oregon have always been there as the backdrop to all my adventures, and I want them to stay that way for generations to come.

Austin Sanchez

Austin is a Craft Beer Brewer

Austin Sanchez - Craft Beer Brewer

Throughout my years photographing and tasting unique craft beers, I’ve had the privilege of experiencing some of the most beautiful rivers and lakes in Oregon. The absolute power and purity flowing in these bodies of water are a huge inspiration behind my photographs, motivation for me as a blogger, a beer enthusiast and as an Oregonian. Thank you for protecting these irreplaceable rivers, streams, lakes and waterfalls!

Micah Chase

Micah is a Farm Manager

Micah Chase is a Farm Manager

I am a life-long Oregonian, farmer, and outdoorsman living in the Willamette Valley. I am writing this letter because I care about wild and scenic rivers in Oregon. Among several special rivers in Oregon, the Willamette River is what I’d like to focus on. My wife and I live in a beautiful farmhouse that’s 250 feet from the river, on the hop farm that I help manage. We raise a thousand acres of hops for the craft brewing industry, and I attribute our success to the abundance of water and fertile soil we were lucky to have. The farm is named after the phenomenon of soil being deposited to land from the river flooding. The Alluvial Farm. As a farmer though, a certain outdoor lifestyle comes along with working with our soil and plants. A specific memory comes to mind where I was able to help a friend catch a fish for the first time. It is amazing to see someone’s face light up with excitement when that feeling hits them for the first time, a fish on the other end of their line

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