Editorial: Dredging Mirror Pond is the best option
Aug 07, 2017
Bend BulletinMirror Pond has been the most recognizable feature in the city of Bend for 107 years. Since it was created, it has been dredged from time to time to keep it open. With another dredging in the planning stages, at least some environmental groups are weighing in, and they don’t like the plan.
Perhaps that shouldn’t come as a surprise. The notion that every bit of public land, or, in this case, public river, should be kept just as nature made it dominates some environmental thinking to the exclusion of all else.
In the case of Mirror Pond, however, excluding “all else” dismisses more than a century of Central Oregon history that shouldn’t be given such short shrift.
For early Bend residents, the development of a dam on the Deschutes River by the Bend Water, Light & Power Co. meant the small but growing community had electricity available to it for the first time. Although unnamed at the time, the pond behind the dam became “Mirror Pond” well before the 1950s, and its presence no doubt helped persuade Bend residents to vote to purchase the land for Drake Park in 1910.
Drake Park has been home to a variety of festivals, pageants and concerts, the city’s first farmer’s market and a variety of other public gatherings. The pond itself has been home to early Pole Pedal Paddle contestants, to the old Water Pageant floats of the 1950s and ‘60s, and more. It’s even been the site of a murder or two, or at least of the disposal of murder victims.
Environmentalists worry that dredging the pond will make it warmer, though, in reality, it’s been warm since it was created. Warm water is nothing new to the critters living there. Nor is the endangered spotted frog a resident of the pond. A careful study of frog habitat a couple of years ago made that clear.
Surely, given how old the pond is, environmental groups can allow Bend residents to retain a bit of what makes Bend, Bend. The two men who own the land under the pond want that; many Bend residents do, as well.