A riverbank transformed

April 22, 2012
A riverbank transformed

Over the past 15 years, the banks of the Deschutes River through the Old Mill District have seen a dramatic transformation — and I am not talking about the development of retail stores, restaurants, offices and entertainment venues. Rather, I am referring to the actual riverbank itself. Prior to the development of the Old Mill District as we now know it, the 90-year or so operation of the sawmills along this stretch of river decimated its banks.

Although those businesses were vital to the early development of Bend, such destruction would not be condoned today. Fast forward to the present: The river banks are alive with vegetation, waterfowl, upland birds, other wildlife and the river has improved fish habitat and water quality.

It can never again be as it was prior to the sawmills, but it is once again beautiful. The transformation was made possible by the forethought of Bill Smith, whose development emphasized and capitalized on the natural and restored beauty of the Deschutes River. There were some who criticized how this was accomplished — but all one has to do is look at the variety of “life” along this stretch of the river to appreciate what has transpired.

So, as spring approaches and you again begin to paddle, float and play along this stretch of the Deschutes, look around and make sure you say thank you to Bill.

James Lewis



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