Editorial: Complete the Colorado Dam project

Published Jul 6, 2013 at 05:00AM

Looking out on the floaters gliding down the Deschutes in Bend, it’s hard to think of a better way to spend another broiling day.

But there is a better way to float the river. Complete the Bend Park & Recreation District’s Colorado Street Dam project.

The Bend Paddle Trail Alliance still must raise about $500,000 of its $900,000 share of the estimated $7.35 million project.

The district’s dam project is fundamentally about safe passage. The river itself is more dangerous than it looks. The spillway at Colorado already looks dangerous. People paddle boats and splash their rafts over to the side to portage around. But some have been caught in the current and passed through the rocks and timbers. Some lived. Others have drowned.

The dam was built to provide a lumber mill pond. The district’s project removes the dam and replaces it with three channels.

There would be a channel left as natural as possible. There would be a “safe” bypass. There would be a whitewater play area. The whitewater area also has the potential to draw more tourists and paddlers to Bend.

The overall project isn’t dead if the Paddle Trail Alliance doesn’t raise its share. Don Horton, the executive director of the park district, said the park board could decide to do it anyway. It could look for ways to cut more costs on the project.

The advantage of raising the money is that it means there doesn’t have to be any scaling back of the project or the district taking money from something else to pay for it. Even small contributions help.

In lieu of cash, the paddle trail folks also need boulders. If you happen to have any native basalt or welded tuff boulders weighing a few tons, they can use them. They’ll be plunked in the river to form the whitewater area.

For more information, you can go to the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance website at bendpaddletrail alliance.org or the park district’s website at bendparksandrec.org.

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