The Bend Park & Recreation District (BPRD) 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.
Development of 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. Over the course of approximately the last two years, extensive community outreach and data analysis has occurred and the Draft Deschutes River Access and Habitat Restoration Plan was published in July of 2021. It is anticipated that the BPRD board will consider adoption of the Final Plan this Fall.
16 parks along the Deschutes River
The district’s approved 2022-2026 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) identifies $151,000 in property tax funding and $200,000 in potential grant funds for Natural Resource River Stewardship over the next 5 years. This current fiscal year the CIP allocates $31,000 in property taxes to assist with this planning process and to begin implementation of improvements.
Property Taxes and Grants
For more information on the Deschutes River Access and Habitat Restoration Plan, please contact
Tel: (541) 706-6192
The Draft Plan is available!
The timeline will be updated as public events are scheduled. The full timeline can be found here: Project Timeline
- February 2021 – community feedback on the draft project list
- Survey completed on February 28th. The summary of results are available here
- Online public meetings were held in English on February 18th and 20th, and in Spanish on February 20th.
- April 2021 – Board review of community feedback
- April 6th Board Meeting: Board Report
- Spring 2021 – develop draft plan
- Summer 2021 – Board and community review of Draft Plan
- July 19th through August 20th – Draft Plan available for public input
- August 3rd – District Board Meeting to review Draft Plan
- CANCELLED DUE TO AQI – August 4th – River Plan Outreach Event at Country Sunset Mobile Home Park (Spanish Interpretation Available)
- August 5th – Community Zoom meeting to review the Draft Plan
- August 10th – River Plan In-Person Community Meeting at Larkspur Center (Spanish Interpretation Available)
- August 12th – River Plan Outreach Event at Parrell Mobile Home Park (Spanish Interpretation Available)
- Fall 2021 – Finalize and adopt plan
- October 5th – Board meeting to review public comments and recommended plan changes
- November 2021 – Board consideration of 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 an approximate 10-year timeframe. Funding for the projects will be a combination of district general funds and grants. The district collected public feedback on 33 potential projects through a survey and virtual community meetings to help refine and update the draft project list. As a result of public feedback, the updated project list, includes 27 potential projects.
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.
During the month of February, the district solicited the public’s input on 33 draft projects through a survey and virtual community meetings. As a result of that input, the project list has been updated and now includes 27 projects. One location with a designated access point has been identified for potential changes. Specifically, one of Miller’s Landing access points would possibly be closed and revegetated. 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 January draft project list included a recommendation for closing and replanting vegetation at both access points. However, due to significant community interest in reopening the designated access point, as well as the potential for a funding partnership, the district has updated its recommendation to include reconstructing and opening the designated access point for public use. The district’s recommendation also includes protecting the habitat at the user-created access point with more protective fencing and additional plantings. Bridge jumping has been a safety concern of the district’s, and the district is working with the City of Bend to explore the possibility of installing bridge jumping deterrents such as cables on this City owned bridge adjacent to Columbia Park.
What is proposed for Miller’s Landing Park?
Miller’s Landing Park has two designated 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 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, the district is working to identify other potential locations for off-leash river access. The draft plan includes a project for a permanent dog off-leash river access at Riverbend Park. Though 20 different potential locations were analyzed for dog off-leash river access, this was the only location that was deemed feasible due to the potential for habitat impacts, potential for conflicts with wildlife, other user groups, and with neighboring uses, as well as space constraints. Though seasonal (fall through spring) off-leash river access at the Riverbend Park beach, and Farewell Bend Park beach was previously considered, it has been removed from the project list due to minimal public support.
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 sought public input on the most appropriate project for this location. Options included (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. Public input led the district to recommend that option (a) no changes to the parking/loading at the trailhead be selected. Therefore, this project has been removed from the draft project list.
How long will it take to develop the plan?
District staff expect the plan will be developed in approximately two years, beginning in January 2020, with anticipated BPRD board adoption in fall 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.