It’s a project that’s been talked about for ten years. And a significant step was taken Wednesday.
The Mirror Pond Fish Passage Advisory Committee moved into Phase 2. That will include deciding the method of passage for fish through the dam and start its final report to submit to the City of Bend for approval.
To the fish population, this would be more than a dam upgrade.
“Fish need to move for a population to remain healthy. That’s just in the immediate, but even more fundamental is what’s called genetic diversity,” said Michael Tripp, a committee member. “Fish population requires diversity of genetics, and you don’t have that if fish can’t move seasonally and during life stages.”
Genetic diversity isn’t the only benefit.
“There’s something called thermal refugia, and the ability for fish to move from warm water to cooler water is reduced when they don’t have the ability to be mobile on larger stretches of the stream,” said committee facilitator Vernita Ediger.
A decision has to be made: Who will pay for and manage the passage?
Pacific Power owns the dam, but according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, it won’t be forced to pay unless it “triggers fish passage.”
“A trigger is when suddenly you’re required to address fish passage and for a dam such as Mirror Pond one of those triggers is if they excavate or replace over 30% by structure volume,” said Alan Ritchey, fish screens and passage program manager with ODFW.
Central Oregon Daily News reached out to Pacific Power, and the company says it has no plans as of yet for either funding a fish passage or replacing the dam.
The question for who’s going to pay for it all could be answered as soon as the beginning of next year.