Public Health Advisory
COVID-19 Operations for High Risk Level:
Parks and trails remain open.
Juniper Swim & Fitness Center: Open – reservations needed.
The Pavilion: Open – reservations needed.
The Art Station: Open – registration needed.
Bend Senior Center, other facilities/offices: Closed.
Limited recreation programs offered. Childcare and virtual classes continue.
The Bend Park & Recreation District is planning for recreational access and habitat restoration at parks along the Deschutes River. River use has grown in popularity in recent years. Bend’s last sawmill closed 26 years ago, and river recreation in Bend city limits became legal only 15 years ago.
Today, park district residents own 16 parks along the Deschutes River, which include numerous access points to facilitate water play. Over 205,000 people floated through the Bend Whitewater Park during the summer of 2020. However, in a recent survey, residents indicated that access to the river is still a top need.
All this use has the potential to cause impacts such as habitat degradation and bank erosion. Staff has completed an inventory and assessment of riverbank conditions on BPRD-owned property. This assessment summarized conditions and identified opportunities for restoration and improved river access. Staff also studied recreational use at its 16 river parks. Staff found that in addition to the 25 designated access points, users have created 94 additional access points. In order to reverse the trend of damaged vegetation and erosion, the district will take a look at improving and consolidating access for these areas.
The Deschutes River Access and Habitat Restoration Plan will involve the community to understand what types of access is desired, where recreational access and habitat restoration should occur, and which locations are priorities, given limited funding.
- Project Overview
- Draft Project List – January 2021 & Lista de Bocetos de Proyectos – Enero 2021
- Community Meeting Presentation & Presentacion de la Reunion Comunitaria
- Public Meeting recording from February 18th, 2021
- These and other project documents can be found in the Maps and Reports tab
16 parks along the Deschutes River
For more information on the Deschutes River Access and Habitat Restoration Plan, please contact
Tel: (541) 706-6118
BPRD received a grant for technical assistance from the National Park Service, Rivers and Trails Conservation Assistance program (NPS-RTCA) for the completion of the plan. Together with NPS-RTCA, the district planning team created a focus group to help guide the development of the plan. The focus group includes representatives from natural resource agencies, business, higher education, environmental organizations, the City of Bend, accessibility organizations and recreational organizations. This diverse group has been critical in the development of the draft project list.
In addition, community members will be invited to provide input through surveys, virtual open houses, small group meetings and virtual district board meetings. Public input opportunities will be posted here on the website as dates are confirmed, as well as communicated through email and social media. The district welcomes and encourages comments from community members throughout the project.
The timeline will be updated as public events are scheduled. The full timeline can be found here: Project Timeline
- November/December – finalize and prioritize draft project list
- February 2021 – Community feedback on the Draft Project List
- Survey completed on February 28th
- Online public meetings were held on February 18, 2021 at 6pm, February 20, 2021 at 10am, and in Spanish on February 20, 2021 at 3pm. A recording of the February 18, 2021 meeting is available here: February 18 public meeting recording.
- April 2021 – Board review of community feedback
- Board Meeting
- Spring 2021 – Develop draft plan
- Summer 2021 – Board and community review of draft plan
- Board Meeting
- Fall 2021 – Finalize and adopt plan
- Board Meeting
- October 2021 – Plan Adoption
River access and habitat restoration projects will be planned, budgeted and implemented over approximately ten years following plan adoption. Projects related to access and habitat improvements are already underway at Riverbend South Park and Drake Park.These projects are examples of the types of treatments that may occur at other parks along the Deschutes River as a result of the river access and habitat restoration plan. Treatments may include planting and fencing areas to improve habitat, and improving access points to reduce or eliminate erosion.
Why is the plan needed?
The 16 parks along the Deschutes River are some of the most beloved and highly visited district properties. The popularity of river use has resulted in impacts such as trampled vegetation, user-created access paths and erosion along the riverbank. Population and tourism growth are expected to add more use in the future. In anticipation, the district is taking a proactive approach to identify optimized river access and habitat restoration projects in a plan. The plan will document existing conditions, community desires, and prioritize access and restoration projects.
How can community members learn more/provide feedback/ask questions?
Community input is an integral part of the plan development process. There will be numerous opportunities to participate in shaping the plan including community surveys, virtual open houses and board meetings. As dates for these opportunities are scheduled, they will be communicated on this project webpage and via the district’s social media, as well as emails to community members who have signed up to receive updates.
To sign up for direct email notices or to ask questions please contact:
What projects will occur as a result of the plan?
The plan will identify and prioritize future projects. The district anticipates these projects will be constructed over a 10-year time horizon. Funding for the projects will be a combination of district general funds and grants. We are now seeking public feedback on 33 potential projects through a survey and virtual community meetings.
Will existing access points be removed as part of this project?
The 16 existing river parks include 25 designated access points and over 94 user-created access points. Collectively there are nearly 120 access points along an eight-mile stretch of Deschutes River frontage owned by BPRD. As part of this project, the district is evaluating the existing access points and identifying opportunities to improve and consolidate access points.
As of February 2021, the draft project list includes 33 potential projects. Through Feb. 28, we are seeking the public’s input on the draft projects through a survey and virtual community meetings. Two locations with designated access points have been identified for potential changes. Specifically, the Columbia Park River access would be possibly closed and revegetated and one of Miller’s Landing access points would possibly be closed. In addition, a number of user-created access points would be closed and revegetated at multiple locations.
What will happen with the Columbia Park access point, which has been temporarily closed since the summer of 2020?
Columbia Park has one designated and one user-created access point; the draft project list includes a recommendation for closing and replanting vegetation at both access points. The reasons for this recommendation include the following. (1) The access points have been overused in recent years, and have been used by people illegally jumping off the bridge. This is a safety concern. The bridge is not easily modified for other deterrents to bridge jumping, such as the cables that have been installed at First Street Rapids or Farewell Bend bridges. (2) The access point has severely eroded since it was constructed in 2012. The erosion is impacting the trail. (3) The access was intended as a launch point for watercraft; however, the site is more frequently used for bridge jumping and illegal off-leash dog use, as documented by the 2020 River Recreation report. While it may be possible to construct a sustainable access point here, there is nearby access at Miller’s Landing (0.1 mile away), and the cost to construct an access point may be better spent at a community park rather than this small neighborhood park.
What is proposed for Miller’s Landing Park?
Miller’s Landing Park has two access points, one from the boardwalk, and one just north of the boardwalk. The northern access point has severely eroded, and is threatening a large tree and private property. The district’s draft project list includes a possible project to close and revegetate the northern access point, and, concurrently, make improvements to the boardwalk access. The improvements are expected to include elements to improve ease of getting into and out of the water for all users. These might include relocating the boulders, lowering the boardwalk entry into the water, and interpretive signs regarding the surrounding habitat area.
Which parks besides Columbia and Miller’s Landing include projects that would improve and consolidate access?
Five parks in addition to Columbia and Miller’s Landing have potential projects that would result in changes to river access. These changes are being recommended to protect and enhance sensitive habitat and reduce erosion. The recommended projects at these parks would maintain river access.
- River Rim Park: Consolidation of access to 1 to 2 designated access points
- Farewell Bend Park: Evaluation of the existing access points to determine the appropriate number of access points. Close access points as applicable.
- First Street Rapids Park, West Side, downstream of pedestrian bridge: Closure of user created access points
- First Street Rapids Park, East Side: Evaluation of the existing access points to determine the appropriate number of access points. Close access points as applicable.
- Sawyer Park, Fisherman’s Trail: Consolidate of access to 1 to 2 designated access points
What is proposed for dogs?
Leashed dogs are welcome at all river access points. Additionally, the district offers 8 off-leash areas for dogs, including one with river access. The existing river access area is located adjacent to Riverbend Park, on private property, currently leased by the district. The temporary use of the leased property is expected to end and the existing river off-leash area will no longer be available for lease by the district. Through the river plan, BPRD is working to identify other potential locations for off-leash river access. The draft project list includes three recommendations in close proximity to one another, so it is likely that only one would be carried forward to the final plan. We are seeking public input on the locations. They include: (1) a permanent dog off-leash river access point at Riverbend Park, (2) a seasonal (fall through spring) off-leash river access at the Riverbend Park beach, and (3) a seasonal off-leash river access at the Farewell Bend Park beach.
What changes will be made to vehicular access at the Cedarwood trailhead?
The Cedarwood trailhead is part of Farewell Bend Park and located at the southern end of the park. The trailhead is located within an established residential neighborhood and over the years, use of this river access point has increased. This access point is within a designated natural area and it’s important to balance the needs of the adjacent residents, river users, and the natural environment. As such, the district is welcoming public input on the most appropriate project for this location. Options include (a) no changes to the parking/loading at the trailhead (b) addition of a few parking spaces, or (c) development of a short-term loading zone only. In addition, the district is having conversations with the adjacent residents and the City of Bend to help inform the most appropriate project at this location.
How long will it take to develop the plan?
District staff expect the plan will be developed in approximately 22 months, beginning in January 2020, with anticipated BPRD board adoption in fall of 2021.
No, these are separate projects that are not directly associated with the development of the plan. These projects are within the defined geographic area of the plan, so will be taken into consideration when developing and prioritizing projects for the plan.
Are Mirror Pond and the South UGB Bridge part of this project?
No, Mirror Pond sedimentation removal or redevelopment of the Pacific Corp dam site will not be addressed as a part of this plan. The south UGB bridge project is no longer planned for implementation and it is not included in the 5-year Capital Improvement Plan.
What projects will occur as a result of the plan?
The plan will identify and prioritize future projects. The district anticipates these projects will be constructed over a 10-year time horizon. Funding for the projects will be a combination of district general funds and grants.
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