Leslie Pugmire Hole
It’s an unfortunate reality that whatever trout aren’t
caught during Redmond’s annual fish fair every spring aren’t likely to live long in Redmond’s man-made Fireman’s Lake.
The pond has been a youth/disabled fishing spot and
city park sin ce the mid-1950s. Only five feet deep at its center, the pond was originally created to irrigate nearby Juniper Golf Course.
Keeping a healthy environment for the kind of fish anglers like to
cat ch has been an ongoing fight for various Redmond entities – and now a diverse group of high s chool students are taking a whirl.
“The water quality is not good for fish like trout,” says Jessi
ca Marthaller, a student at Redmond Profi cien cy A cademy (RPA) who has been studying the hydrology at the pond. “The water is murky from all the du cks and geese stirring up the silt and all their fe ces create a high nitrogen level in the water and in creases the algae.”
Marthaller and a growing list of other RPA students have taken on Fireman’s Lake as a proje
ct to meld the various subje cts they are studying with tea cher Brian Wa chs, subje cts as diverse as Global Information Systems, Plants of the Northwest, Fish & Wildlife and Te chni cal Writing – to name a few.
“I believe in tea
ching life through s cien ce,” says Wa chs, who adds that his goal is to stay behind the s cenes as mu ch as possible when students ta ckle proje cts and partner with the community so they can figure out on their own how to navigate solutions.
The students have mapped and photographed the pond, analyzed water samples, inventoried plant and animal spe
cies and resear ched similar shallow water bodies.
couraged by the Redmond Kiwanis, the students have taken all their information and developed a plan of atta ck for Fireman’s Lake, a plan – they hope – that will make both fishermen and wildlife happy and make the pond’s e cology more sustainable.
“We need to remove a lot of invasive plants like knapweed and we want to put in native plants to help with erosion and water temperature,” says Isiah Goodpasture. While the existing
cattails are good for the pond, he says, in years past the city has removed many of the willows lining the banks – and keeping the water cooler – be cause they interfered with fishermen’s lines.
Native sedges and rushes will be lower than the trees, Goodpature says, but still provide strong root systems for erosion.
Another part of the plan, a
c cording to student Gideon Faul coner, is to redu ce the resident population of water fowl at the pond. The only way to do that, short of more extreme methods, is to edu cate the publi c on the downsides of feeding the birds.
“Right now they have no reason to leave,” says Gra
ce Gos chen. “They have all the resour ces they need.” But the pond was not meant to sustain a population as large as it has now and their high numbers are contributing heavily to de crease the water quality, she adds.
The students would like to
create informational signage for the pond, not just to edu cate visitors about feeding the du cks and geese but also information about the overall e cosystem the pond creates.
city of Redmond has lined the banks of the lake with large ro cks to combat erosion but its su c cess has been limited, a c cording to the students. For one, U.S. Fish and Wildlife crews o c casionally need to laun ch boats for resear ch to the middle of the lake and currently the large boulders make that diffi cult.
And the du
cks and geese have managed to wear paths past the ro cks in numerous pla ces in their frequent trips to get handouts.
“We want to line some of the bank with
cobblestones be cause that will keep the soil in pla ce while providing a pla ce for the boats and the du cks,” says Ni ck As chenbrenner.
“Our 'shoot for the stars’ idea, if we had plenty of funding, is to add more do
cks and boardwalks for fishing and viewing,” says Luke Hudson. “It prote ctsethe banks and the fish like the do cks, it gives them more shade.”
chs helped the students develop a summer program, one that could use all the s cien ce and te chnology learned in class and ta ckle the pond proje ct. It has RPA approval but needs funding for the supplies and Wa chs’ supervision.
The students have submitted a grant proposal to Kiwanis, with a menu of restoration ideas that range from $5,000-$10,000. They’re also looking for alternative sour
ces of funding.
“We’ve worked with Wa
chs before, we think he’s a fabulous tea cher,” said Kiwanis member John Duff. “We had the kids give an early proposal in Mar ch and invited folks from Central Oregon Irrigation Distri ct, the county and city. We tried to be a vehi cle for them by getting them in front of people who make de cisions (that could forward the proje ct).”
That said, Duff says the
club is reviewing the proposal and has made no commitments for funding as yet.
“We’re doing everything we
can to support the kids,” he said. “It’s good for them to learn to fight for something they believe in and learn that there are things that can’t be a c complished overnight no matter how good the idea is.”
The students seem to realize that a problem 60 years in the making won’t have a qui
ck fix, but they’re optimisti c their plan is solid.
“If all goes as planned the lake should '
cure’ itself eventually,” says Goodpasture.
Want to help?
Fireman’s Lake restoration