Mirror Pond Fish Passage Comments
February 10, 2014
To: Mirror Pond Ad Hoc Committee, Bend City Council
Re: Mirror Pond Fish Passage
In just a few years the Deschutes River flowing through the City of Bend has transitioned from a log holding pond and irrigation canal to a centerpiece of our identity. Citizens of Bend have become increasingly aware of the value of the Deschutes as it flows through our town. It is widely considered a treasure for residents and tourists alike.
The importance of the river will only increase as additional park facilities, trails, and the white water park are developed in the near future. A beautiful and healthy river is in the interests of all Bend residents.
One aspect of a healthy river is healthy populations of wild, native fish. The outcry over the recent fish kill just upstream from town illustrates the importance of a healthy river to the citizens of Bend. There are many factors that contribute to creating a healthy river and fishery. One of them is the ability for fish to migrate. Trout move many miles as seasonal conditions change and they search for better habitat, spawning grounds, cooler water, more food, protection from predators, and other reasons. The ability to migrate also increases genetic diversity and strengthens the population.
There are three artificial barriers on the Deschutes River between Wickiup Reservoir and Lake Billy Chinook that prevent fish passage. All three are in Bend. Two of the three, the North Canal Dam and the dam at Colorado Avenue, will be modified to allow for fish passage in the near term.
When these modifications are complete, the Pacific Power Dam that creates Mirror Pond will be the sole remaining artificial fish barrier. We understand there are several alternatives under consideration for dam rehabilitation, dam removal, and an alternative Mirror Pond concept. Whatever final alternative is chosen, we know that restored biological health of the river is necessary to support a robust wild, native population of fish. The first step toward this goal is fish passage.
We would like to propose that fish passage be viewed as an opportunity; an opportunity whose time has come, regardless of the final resolution of repairing or removing the Pacific Power Dam. We believe that fish passage should be considered a key goal of current deliberations, development of alternatives, and selection of a preferred alternative.
At the last meeting of the Mirror Pond Ad Hoc committee it was clear that some members of the committee did not want to consider fish passage as part of their deliberations. Fish passage was characterized as a burden that should be avoided. We do not agree with this position. We believe that fish passage should be considered not just because it may be a legal requirement but rather because it is the right thing to do.
A healthy river with a healthy ecosystem that supports fish, and the wildlife that rely on them, should be a core value of the City of Bend. All users, anglers or not, along with the city in general will benefit as the Deschutes River continues its recovery to a healthy river.
Thank you for your consideration.
President, Central Oregon Flyfishers
President, Deschutes Chapter Trout Unlimited
Executive Director, Native Fish Society
President, Association of NW Steelheaders