Bend canal historic nomination sparks controversy

Group seeks preservation; others want water saved

Group seeks historic destination for...

BEND, Ore. - Deschutes County commissioners met Wednesday to discuss the fate of a stretch of canal east of Bend. A group of neighbors would like to see the area become a historic district. It has been nominated for the National Register of Historic Places. But not everyone is backing the effort.

The roughly 3-mile section runs near Bear Creek Road, between Hamby Road and Gosney Road. People in favor of the historic distinction said it has many features that make it a good nomination.

Gary Grund and his wife have lived along the water for more than 20 years. His fear is the canal will be piped in the future and some of the history of the region will be lost. He said he doesn’t want people to have to go to museums to see what an irrigation canal is. 

“Can’t we show future generations what 3 miles of historic canals that formed Central Oregon … Bend, Oregon, look like? That’s the bottom line,” Grund said. 

But according to the Central Oregon Irrigation District communications manager, Shon Rae, we lose a lot of water from un-piped canals. 

“Up to 50 percent, in places, of water is lost in transmission to get it out to our farmers. And so by piping those canals, there’s not loss in transmission,” Rae said. 

County commissioners decided to hear more testimony and continue the conversation at their next work session on Monday. They’ll be discussing whether to make a recommendation to the state Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation, which takes up the proposed Central Oregon Canal Historic District at an Oct. 20 meeting in Salem.

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