▶️ Goodbye green grass? Bend parks at risk if river levels continue to drop

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Drought conditions are intensifying across the High Desert and the next victim might be your favorite park.

Deschutes River flows, currently at about 830 cubic feet per second when they are normally around 1,100 cfs, are dropping and that could cause Bend parks to lose their water right.

If river flow levels drop below 660 cubic feet per second, eight Bend parks, including Drake Park, will lose their water right and irrigation will cease.

“If we have to cut water in August in our parks tied to the river, we are going to see most parks will go brown within weeks,” said Mike Duarte, Bend Parks Landscape Manager.

I chatted with people in Drake Park to see if they could envision the normally lush, green park lawns in a dry, dusty condition.

“It would be a bummer” said Drake Trethaway of Bend. “I come here every single day with my dog. I walk here every day with my friends. I swim here. It would be a big bummer.”

Others I spoke with weren’t as concerned about parks turning brown.

One woman said brown is the new normal in the drought-stricken San Francisco Bay Area where she’s from.

Another said she grew up in the Arizona desert.

“Honestly, what are you going to do?,” said Jeff Trethaway, Bend. “Are you going to quit walking here? Probably not. It won’t be as much of an experience.”

“I think we’ll get some questions, but I’m hoping most people are reasonable and they’ll understand what we are up against with the drought conditions,” Duarte said. “We are doing the best job that we can and we are trying to manage the water we have, and manage it effectively.”

The eight parks that likely will go brown include:

Big Sky, Drake, Farewell Bend, Harmon, Pacific, Pageant, Pioneer and Riverbend.

Landscape managers are hopeful lawns that turn brown can be brought back to life with a good winter and sufficient water supply next year.

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