Silt for Summit

After reading about the possible $12 million it will cost to restore Summit High School fields to playing status, I wondered if there wasn’t some way to reduce that price. Then I read about the silt in Mirror Pond, and I think I have a solution for both problems our community now faces.

After talking with a friend who is an engineer, we think it would be a great use of the silt in the river to pump into the Summit holes. If I remember correctly, it was difficult to find a good place for the river silt when it was dredged last time. What a concept! Fixing two problems at the same time! The only question would be whether two large institutions – the school district and the city – can make something that at least seems so logical happen. Good luck; maybe it would work.

Judy Duncan

Source: The Bulletin ©2006

Experts: Wait on Mirror Pond fix

The city of Bend has time before Mirror Pond turns into a series of wetlands, a group of water experts said Wednesday afternoon.

Meeting for the first time – eight months after Bend city councilors recommended the group gather – the water experts said they didn’t see an urgency to dredge Mirror Pond in the next year or two.

City staff and councilors intend for the group, whose members work on water quality, management, habitat, hydrology and restoration, to lend their technical expertise in what to do with the growing silt at Mirror Pond.

The group also suggested the city hire facilitators to gather public feedback on what to do at Mirror Pond, an icon of Bend and the heart of Drake Park.

The consensus the group came to Wednesday differs from what city staff believed to be true five months ago. Staff suggested that if nothing was done, the growing sediment may turn Mirror Pond into wetlands. That could put Mirror Pond under more stringent federal regulations, making dredging of the pond even more difficult.

On Wednesday, Public Works Director Ken Fuller asked the group to determine if the sedimentation problem was an urgency.

“As we do nothing, choose to do nothing for five years, is that going to limit us?” Fuller said.

The group of water experts said the dredging could wait, because the sedimentation at the bottom of Mirror Pond is rising slowly.

“It’s at least five or 10 years away,” said Ryan Houston, executive director for the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council.

During Wednesday’s meeting, members of the group questioned what their role was in the process and if council would listen to their responses.

Councilor Jim Clinton, who was in charge of gathering the committee, said from what he has heard from other councilors turning Mirror Pond into wetlands is not an option.

“The majority of councilors, would, I think, say Mirror Pond in the future needs to look like it has in the past,” Clinton said.

In the November 2004 meeting, the City Council looked at alternatives for Mirror Pond that included doing nothing; dredging the pond from bank to bank; just dredging the river’s channel; removing the dam; enhancing the wetlands; and restoring the river to its natural course. The solution also could be a combination of restoring the river and dredging.

The city also wants to start working on a long-term solution for Mirror Pond, which would involve input from those further upstream.

For the last three decades, growing sedimentation on the riverbed has been an increasing problem at the pond.

Mirror Pond was formed in 1910 when a power company installed a hydroelectric dam on the Deschutes River just past the Newport Avenue Bridge. Sedimentation was not an issue until the mid 1970s when the mills downstream stoped using the river to float logs.

Sediment that once stopped at the mill pond now continues downstream to be deposited at Mirror Pond. In 1984, the city dredged Mirror Pond at a cost of $1.5 million. At the time, the project manager predicted that the pond would have to be dredged in another 20 years.

And the city says the sedimentation is more than just a city problem. Water released from Wickiup Reservoir for irrigation generates more sediment than would occur naturally. The sudden changes in the river’s flow erode the stream banks and wash dirt and debris downstream.

“It’s a very artificial situation here. It’s not a natural thing. But people have a lot of affection for a lot of things that are not natural besides Mirror Pond,” Clinton said.

City staff hopes to have a recommendations to the City Council at the beginning of 2007. Between now and then, the city also intends to gather input from Mirror Pond stakeholders, conduct public surveys and form a community task force.

Source: The Bulletin ©2006

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