The Bend Park & Recreation District (BPRD) is planning for recreational access and habitat restoration at parks along the Deschutes River. Recreating at the river is a very popular activity, and over 267,000 people floated through the Bend Whitewater Park during the summer of 2021. 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 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 has identified opportunities to improve and consolidate access for these areas.
Development of the Deschutes River Access and Habitat Restoration Plan involved 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 two years, extensive community outreach and data analysis occurred and the Deschutes River Access and Habitat Restoration Plan was adopted by the BPRD board on November 2, 2021.
16 parks along the Deschutes River
The district’s approved 2023-2027 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) identifies $1,537,168 over the next 5 years for River Access and Habitat Restoration Plan identified projects. This current fiscal year the CIP allocates $145,000 to begin implementation of improvements.
Property Taxes, Reimbursement SDCs, and Grants
For more information on the Deschutes River Access and Habitat Restoration Plan, please contact
Tel: (541) 706-6192
The Final Plan is available!
Key project milestones and public input opportunities in 2021 included:
- 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 2nd – Board adopts plan
The 28 river access and habitat restoration projects will be planned, budgeted and implemented over approximately ten years. Projects related to access and habitat improvements are already underway at Riverbend South 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 took 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 members can contact:
What projects will occur as a result of the plan?
The plan identified and prioritized 28 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 the potential projects through a survey and community meetings to help refine and update the project list.
Will existing access points be removed as part of this project?
The 16 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 evaluated the existing access points and identified opportunities to improve and consolidate access points.
The plan includes locations with designated access point(s) identified for changes and a number of user-created access points will be closed and revegetated at multiple locations.
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 leased private property. 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. Through the river plan, the district worked to identify other potential locations for off-leash river access and the 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 was not included in the plan due to minimal public support.
How long did it take to develop the plan?
The plan was developed in approximately two years, beginning in January 2020 with BPRD board adoption in November 2021.
No, these are separate projects that are not directly associated with the development of the plan. However, these projects are within the defined geographic area of the plan and were taken into consideration when developing and prioritizing other projects for the plan.
Are Mirror Pond and the South UGB Bridge part of this project?
No, Mirror Pond sedimentation removal and/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.