Future of Mirror Pond considered

In the next five to 10 years, Mirror Pond could begin to resemble a marsh instead of the Bend icon featured on the label of a local microbrew.

At the Tuesday work session, the Bend Metro Park and Recreation District Board listened to a presentation by Bend Councilor Jim Clinton about the issue of sediment building up in the river as it winds through downtown Bend.

“We want to make sure whatever we do is useful in the future so they don’t have to do this dredging over and over,” Clinton said.

The district board agreed to schedule a joint meeting with the City Council to discuss the issue further.

The park and recreation district owns roughly 57 percent of the shoreline between Galveston Avenue and Newport Avenue, in the form of Drake, Harmon, Pageant and Brooks parks. Private property owners hold the rest.

Yet it’s not completely clear who, if anyone, “owns” the riverbed in the Mirror Pond area, according to Bruce Ronning, director of planning and development for the park district.

Clinton said the growing sediment problem could have economic implications for all of downtown Bend, eliminating a major attraction and public amenity.

Mirror Pond was dredged in 1984 to remove sediment, at a cost of roughly $312,000, Clinton said during his presentation. At that time, the federal government paid for nearly half, funneling $150,000 toward the project.

The city ponied up $62,500 and the park and recreation district kicked in $50,000.

More recently, in May 2006, the city formed an advisory committee to revisit the issue of sediment in Mirror Pond. The committee included members with backgrounds in water management, environmental science and engineering. Ronning sat on the committee to represent the park and recreation district’s perspective.

The committee recommended some combination of partially dredging the pond and restoration, which may involve minor efforts to return the river to a more natural state.

Sedimentation has occurred largely because a dam near Newport Avenue has slowed the river so that the current is not sufficient to sweep away sediment. District staff said it seems unlikely that the dam would be removed.

It is also unclear where the money for a project to reduce sediment would come from, since federal help seems unlikely, but Clinton said the council plans to move forward by gathering public input on the committee’s report.

Park and recreation district board members said they supported the city’s efforts to preserve Mirror Pond.

Board members discussed the idea of “sediment traps” upstream that would reduce the amount of silt flowing into Mirror Pond that might possibly be integrated into recreational water features for river users.

Board member Bob Woodward also mentioned that a few years ago, engineers opened the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River in Arizona to allow stronger currents to flush away the sediment collecting above the dam and rebuild beaches and sandbars that had originally existed below the dam.

Source: The Bulletin ©2007