Park district is set on turning Mirror Pond into wetland

While we blissfully enjoy all that Drake Park and Mirror Pond offer to our community, your park and recreation district is quietly working to inalterably change it from the iconic pond that is the face of Bend, to a wetland complete with narrow river, cattails, reeds and sloping banks.

I recently attended a “community outreach” event hosted by Jim Figurski, the project manager for the “Mirror Pond Visioning Project.” He presented four options, one of which included dredging the pond and otherwise leaving it alone. He then spent our time explaining why that won’t work — too expensive, too much mud, too much trucking, too short-lived and the dam is too old. It became apparent that a “natural” river is viewed by the district as the only sensible choice, with wetlands and natural vegetation making up the greatly expanded banks adjoining Drake Park.

It quickly became obvious that the unintended consequences of the destruction of Mirror Pond have not been considered. Figurski opined that mosquitoes would not be a problem in the newly formed wetlands because the cattails would blow in the wind, drowning the mosquito eggs.

Though much time and money has been spent controlling ducks and geese, the audience was assured that the profusion of nesting areas resulting in more water fowl would not be a problem because the birds’ line of sight to the water would be obscured by the vegetation along the river bank, making them too nervous to use the lawn. He dismissed the idea of people and animals swimming, saying it is against city ordinances. The danger of children traveling through the underbrush and into the river unobserved was not discussed. Nor were ticks and the threat of disease posed by mosquitoes.

He focused on the age of the dam. He sang the praises of a natural river, ignoring the fact that there are two dams just downstream of the power company dam that would prevent the river from being “natural,” even if the dam were removed. The silt that would fill the downstream dam if the first were removed was clearly not considered.

When asked why the questionnaire sent out to residents did not request a preference as to whether to keep the park as it is, he replied that, like a doctor, the park district could not make a decision until first identifying the symptoms. Apparently the district, like a doctor, will decide what is wrong and make a decision as to how best to treat it. He rejected the idea of a vote, saying the people get to decide whether to vote money for parks but the district decides how to spend it.

I must confess a bias. I have occupied an office across from Mirror Pond for the past 30 years, watching people walk along the river, play and picnic on the lawns, and fish, swim and float in the quiet waters. Visitors are quick to assure me how lucky I am to have a view of the beautiful place that makes Bend so special.

I hunt, fish and enjoy the natural rivers with which we are blessed. The Deschutes flows naturally for hundreds of miles, from Wickiup to the Bill Healy Bridge, from Bend to Billy Chinook and on to the Columbia. The continued maintenance of our beautiful pond in the heart of Bend is not too much to ask. You can visit the parks district website at If you do not act, Mirror Pond, as we know it, will be history.

— Bruce Brothers lives in Bend.

Mirror Pond is new ‘natural’ for Deschutes River in Bend

The consideration of removing the Newport Avenue Dam and losing Mirror Pond, Bend’s beautiful icon, is unbelievable. It is like removing the Empire State Building from New York City, the Lincoln Memorial from Washington, D.C., or the Eiffel Tower from Paris.

Mirror Pond/Drake Park is the most recognizable aspect of Bend. In Bend we put old houses on historical registers to preserve them. Mirror Pond is older than most of them.It needs to be preserved.

Silt is part of river hydraulics; it happens in all of them. Dredging is commonplace in rivers throughout the world. The fact that it will be 30 years since the Deschutes River was dredged in the Mirror Pond area is amazing; it is usually done more often in similar situations. Dredging is considered maintenance in harbors, ports, mouths of rivers and lakes and ponds. Don’t act like it is something unheard of.

There are alternatives to dredging. One idea (shared, but thought of independently, by my friend Carl Vertrees, the retired publisher of The Redmond Spokesman) is to bring the water level down for a month to let the “mud flats” dry out. Bring in excavators and dig up the mud flats, load the excess soil on dump trucks and take it to the landfill to make a topsoil that the Bend area does not have. Sell it for landscaping projects and defray the costs of the soil being removed from the pond. This could be done on both sides of the river from the Newport Bridge to the Galveston Bridge. A project like this or dredging would last another 30 years; it is just maintenance.

The group that would have Mirror Pond destroyed has an attitude that everything “natural” is better. This is the attitude that would remove the Columbia River dams. If done, Jantzen Beach, Hayden Island and Delta Park in North Portland would have to be abandoned. A city there called VanPort floated away in a post-World War II flood — flooding that was mitigated by the Columbia River dams. It would only be a matter of time before flooding would destroy those areas and possibly Portland International Airport.

The Newport Dam could be modernized, the Pacific Power generator replaced with a more efficient one and the structure improved. Pacific Power, the City of Bend, and the Bend Park & Recreation District should be responsible for the costs of dredging or silt removal. We, the residents of Bend, would pay for it through our taxes to Bend and to Parks & Rec and our rates to Pacific Power.

Removing the dam and restoring the river would be much more expensive than dredging. The idea that it should cost $200,000 to decide what to do is ridiculous, and giving the steering committee the right to make the decision is questionable. A vote by residents would be much more reasonable in a decision-making process. Not everyone can or will let their position be known on the Internet. The activist-type people will flood the Internet with their opinions and will be overly represented in the results of the questionnaire. Make your opinion known.

What would an empty Mirror Pond look like? The few pre-1910 pictures of the area before the dam was built illustrate a dangerous river, one where a presidential candidate was drowned while attempting to save a young boy who fell in.

Removing the dam would take away waterfront property from owners that have been there for more than 100 years. You affect the downstream properties, subjecting them with flooding. You affect the upstream properties by pushing the river away from them, reducing their properties’ desirability and value. This opens up the steering committee, the City of Bend and the Bend Park & Recreation District to endless lawsuits.

Maintain Mirror Pond by dredging or silt removal. Preserve the look of the pond; it has become the new “natural.”

— Cary Robles lives in Bend.

Source: The Bend Bulletin ©2013

New Mirror Pond attraction could be Bend’s gold mine

The city of Bend looks at the silting of Mirror Pond as a major problem. Bend needs to turn this around and discuss how it might be a gold mine. At some time in the near future, you will have to dredge the pond, as it is too valuable to not dredge or eliminate it. Here might be one solution:

Begin looking for an old gold dredge. The town of Mt. Vernon used to have one. Track it down or maybe purchase the one in Sumpter.

Maybe there are others out there, waiting to be sold and moved. Right now, with the price of gold where it is, these may be difficult to purchase at a cheap price. But find one! Move it and set it up on Mirror Pond.

Now you will need to be creative. Create at least two condos on the upper floor of the dredge. These condos could have an old-time flair and be available for rental. Make them quite high-end affairs, as they will be in a super prime location as they will slowly move as you dredge the material in the pond. On the roof you could put a dining area, perhaps not reaching the height of the Space Needle in Seattle or other unique locations, but no one else would have the Mirror Pond view that would look back into the city or the park. I realize this might be only a summer and early fall endeavor. Now think of the value of the home sites along the pond.

Maybe if this worked out you would add a barge, to be towed, with a number of condos sitting on the barge. This might be so successful that property taxes might start falling.

The gold dredge will not be a fast-moving enterprise, as it needs to complete Mirror Pond dredging every twenty years or so. So it would be a long-term project that would just continue and continue. It might just create enough activity that the geese are disrupted and take their business elsewhere.

Now the dredge material has to be dealt with, so again, get a little creative. Salt the pond with small gold nuggets, maybe purchased from Sumpter or some other gold area, or really go big and maybe Baker City might sell some of their gold nuggets or even rent them out. Put them on display to show what the condo renters might find. When you stay in the condo, you have to agree to take all metals that become part of the tailings, including the salted gold or any other strange metals. As the tailings come out of the dredge, separate the metal from the silt. Now dealing with the silt needs to be a moneymaker also. Here I am kind of shaky on ideas, maybe places with considerable wind erosion might purchase this silt, or make it part of the deal with Sumpter and it could go back to replace the damage of bygone years when they dredged for gold; or, we have many dry canyons around, fill one up and sell the filled area as land for development. Of course, you would need an environmental study to make sure no endangered species of rattlesnakes or scorpions would be involved.

I could see this now, all over social media of all kinds. Think of the additional tourists who might come to view this lasting impression of the frontier. You could have stagecoach rides to go along with the beer/bike rides to see the community. With deeper water, you might have water shows or even parades along Mirror Pond. Imagine Christmas lights reflected on the pond. What a sight!

— Bob Vancil lives in Redmond.

Source: The Bulletin ©2013

Prevent the Mirror Pond mudflat

The Bulletin has it right. The barbarians are at the city’s gates – again!

More specifically, they’re scheming to obtain federal designation of our beautiful Mirror Pond as “wetlands.”

Five years ago, the same private Bend group’s plan was to maneuver a friendly City Council into removing the dam, draining Mirror Pond and turning it into mudflats. We were assured that these mudflats would then evolve into “wetlands” in only two or three years.

The Mudflatters’ new strategy is to delay any dredging of Mirror Pond so that the feds will do their dirty work for them.

One way or the other, they aim to drive a stake in the historic and visual heart of downtown Bend, not to mention the most gorgeous and recognized geographical feature of any city east of the Cascades.

The Mudflatters insisted that returning the river to its “natural” state between the Tumalo Avenue bridge and the Newport bridge would be just dandy. They said it would provide habitat for a wide variety of plants, birds and other wildlife. We assume they were referring to the ducks and geese and muskrats and mink and osprey and eagles and western meadowlark that one can currently see at Mirror Pond.

They claimed that once the mudflats became “wetlands” (and effectively shut off the public – visually and physically – from much of the river’s edge), the city could then fund and maintain “boardwalks” so we could actually get close to the water!

The Mudflatters claimed their plan for wetlands at the new Farewell Bend Park in the Old Mill District was evidence of their wisdom. The fact is that Farewell Bend Park and its new mudflats/wetlands has taken shape on ground that was ripped, torn and pulverized by logging equipment for 70 odd years. Virtually any treatment of this area would have been an improvement.

The Mudflatters also became born-again true believers in civic austerity, claiming in 2002 that to spend $2 million (a possibly inflated number) to dredge Mirror Pond every 20 years would be a horrifying fiscal expenditure. Amortized over 20 years, dredging would require one-tenth of 1 percent (.011 percent) of the 2003-2004 city of Bend budget of $171.64 million. I have not worked the numbers for the upcoming 2006-2007, but when it comes, you do the math.

Do the Mudflatters think that maintaining one of the most beautiful scenes in Oregon is not within the means of the city of Bend? Would not the citizens of Bend raise a significant amount of that sum if called upon? Do the Mudflatters really believe that any majority of the elected members of any Bend City Council, now or in the future, will vote – publicly – to kill Mirror Pond?

If they are, then Mirror Pond should be an immediate litmus test (a saliva analysis might be more appropriate) of the highest priority for any prospective or current City Council candidate. This is the heart of the city we’re talking about – the very essence of Bend, Ore. – now and forever.

Also, don’t buy their proposition that Mirror Pond is responsible for the de- terioration of fisheries or overall water quality in the Deschutes River above and below Bend. The fact is that the river’s fishery above and below Bend has dramatically deteriorated since the late 1940s because of irrigation withdrawals, not the “overheating” of water in the short Mirror Pond reach.

Frankly, the proposal of the Mudflatters to remove the dam below the Newport bridge and drain Mirror Pond should have been summarily ash-canned by the council years ago. It wasn’t. It should be now.

Therefore, we suggest three immediate and necessary courses of action: (1) The current City Council should vote to include the cost of Mirror Pond dredging in its 2006-2007 budget. (2) The City Council should send formal notice to the appropriate federal agency that the city fully intends to dredge the pond and not allow it to become federally controlled “wetlands.” (3) All residents of Bend who love Drake Park and Mirror Pond should write and call the state’s two U.S. senators and the District 2 congressman and tell them that Bend’s Mirror Pond is too precious to our heritage and to our economy to be turned into a glorified mudflat.

Jim Crowell, of Bend, is the member services director at Central Electric Cooperative. Steve Scott, of Bend, owns Steve Scott Realtors.

Source: The Bend Bulletin ©2006

Stock Stream

Chief Deputy Game Warden Brought 35,000 Fry to Bend Monday Night and Placed Them In River — Others to be Supplied Next Year

The Deschutes river today contains 35,000 more fish than it did on Monday. The reason for the rapid increase is that 35 cans of fish fry were placed in the stream Monday night by State officials.

Chief Deputy Came Warden T. J. Craig and Assistant H. W. Trembath arrived Monday evening with the young fish and the vessels containing them were at once loaded on a truck and taken to the Sisemore place above town where they were liberated. The fish are steelhead salmon trout and were brought from the Clackamas hatchery. The shipment came through unusually well, none of the little fish dying. They are very small now but In a year’s time will be from six to eight inches long. When they have attained their growth they weigh six or seven pounds.

Mr. Craig assured Secretary Sawhill of the Commercial Club that next spring 50,000 Eastern brook trout would be brought here to stock the river, the fry being too small to turn loose In the open stream now. He also said that enough lake trout to stock Paulina lake would be furnished by the state if transportation for them from Bend to the lake was guaranteed.

Messrs Craig and Trombath left yesterday morning.