REDMOND, Ore. — Crews have begun to tear down the 107-year-old Cline Falls Dam on the Deschutes River.

The wood and concrete dam is owned by Central Oregon Irrigation District and became nonoperational after its 100-year lease expired in 2010.

The dam was built in 1910 to provide water and energy to a proposed community in central Oregon that never came to fruition and later generated hydroelectric power for the Redmond Airport, used by the federal government during World War II, The Bulletin reported (http://bit.ly/2vtRwJM ).

Plans to remove the dam began after it became tangled in a lawsuit between PacifiCorp and the district.

There were also safety concerns over a dilapidated dam in the middle of a frequently visited site owned by the Bureau of Land Management.

“My biggest fear is that this was such an attractive nuisance that someone was going to get hurt,” said District Manager Craig Horrell.

Workers have placed excavators and sandbags on the river to temporarily alter the flow while they work to remove the dam this week. The work is expected to be completed by the end of August, Horrell said.

After the dam is removed, redband, bull and brown trout and other fish species that swim through will be able to get to the downriver more freely, said Scott Wright, River Design Group project manager who worked with the district and Upper Deschutes Watershed, a nonprofit, to design the removal project.

The Corvallis-based River Design Group works in river restoration and dam removal. They plan on adding vegetation to the area next fall, Wright said.

The Mirror Pond dam will stay in place and will be the only barrier to safe fish passage between Wickiup Falls and Lake Billy Chinook, Horrell said.


Information from: The Bulletin, http://www.bendbulletin.com