As a citizen of Bend and a 2005 graduate of Oregon State University-Cascades Campus in natural resources, I feel it is necessary to say that Bend is too cool to dredge Mirror Pond. There are several reasons for this, though, none of us have to look too far to see that the city of Bend is always at the forefront in creating a hip and desirable place for its residents to live and tourists to visit.
From an environmental perspective, removing the dam will allow for the Deschutes River’s natural channel to flow, which is by far the most friendly decision for the river’s ecosystem. A dam cannot only cause difficulty for fish headed upstream, it can also significantly alter the water level, causing temperature differences that pose problems to all sorts of aquatic wildlife.
Dredging the river will certainly not help this environmental problem. It will, in fact, further harm the delicate riparian zone and instream species. We must face the truth: dredging will not be an end-all; it will be an expensive, ongoing process that will become more frequently needed as the sediment buildup increases from amplified river use farther up stream.
For citizens who are concerned about losing Bend’s iconic Mirror Pond, I am certain that the city will do a mighty fine job of re-establishing trails and landscaping to make the Deschutes’ natural channel just as beautiful as Mirror Pond — and enhanced by the knowledge that the river is healthy and flowing as it was intended to flow.
Bend is known for its ability to transform out-of-date places and practices into new and revised attractions that amaze its residents and tourists. We need to focus on this significant ability as we look into transforming one of Bend’s oldest landmarks. I like to think of the river flowing freely in its natural channel, with trails and landscaping that allow us to observe its natural beauty, perhaps even boosted by signage that tell of Bend’s forward-looking decisions that caused us to shift toward a newer and improved place. Bend has always been on the leading edge of fashionable decisions and it would be a shame to see this monumental choice go against our powerful standard.
Furthermore, this decision needs to stay in the hands of the citizens, not bigwigs with loads of money who can purchase the choice that rightly belongs to Bend’s residents. It would be a disgrace to see this paramount opportunity for Bend’s people stolen from them by a few certain individuals who think that their money and power are bigger and better than the community’s. This decision must remain in the hands of those who have lived and worked here and those of us who love to see our city come together to make choices about the future of the river that we all love.
The dam is already leaking, the river is already returning to its natural state. Please, let’s not take away its chance to become the river that it is supposed to be.
We are too awesome to give this decision away to money-hungry people who don’t care about the river’s health. Come on people of Bend, we are better than dredging. We have a chance to shine as a city. Let’s shine.
— Tracy Howk lives in Bend.