Bend Whitewater Park set to reopen Saturday

February 26, 2016
Bend Whitewater Park set to reopen Saturday

Opened briefly in fall, park has been closed for repairs and improvements

By Scott Hammers / The Bulletin

The Bend Whitewater Park will reopen Saturday, more than four months after it was shut to the public for repairs.

The Bend Park & Recreation District opened the park on the Deschutes River in September, but closed it just over a month later to make a variety of modifications.

Crews working on the project over the winter have altered the floaters’ channel, changing the series of small drops to prevent users on inner tubes or similar craft from getting hung up on rocks. One of the four artificial waves in the whitewater channel was reshaped with the addition of new pneumatic bladders, to provide a better ride for users on surfboards.

In a news release, the park district said all improvements done since the park closed last fall are within the project budget.

Project manager Chelsea Schneider said it is not expected the district will be closing down the whitewater park for any additional work this spring and summer.

“We had (Bend Paddle Trail Alliance) out there, they did a test run evaluating the floater channel and passageway, their sentiment was ‘a 1000 percent better’ is what one person said,” according to Schneider. “So we’ve got a lot more confidence were much closer to where we need to be.”

With local irrigation managers currently banking water in Wickiup and Crane Prairie reservoirs, flows in the Deschutes River at the water park are much lower than will be the case in summer, when much of that water will be in the river channel flowing through Bend.

Schneider said a large portion of the available water is being channeled through the floaters’ channel, which doubles as a passage for fish, and into the habitat area on the north side of the project. Whitewater riders should be able to play on the bottommost wave of the whitewater park, she said, but the rapids will become bigger and faster as irrigation water is released later in the year.

Current flows in the river are about half of what floaters and paddlers should expect this summer, Schneider said.

Forecasts suggest Saturday will offer less than optimal conditions for river floating and paddling, with daytime high temperatures in the low 50s. While the entire facility will be open Saturday, city work tentatively scheduled for March could temporarily prevent floaters from traveling through the floaters’ channel.

The $9.7 million whitewater park was funded by a 2012 Bend Park & Recreation District bond and more than $1.1 million in private donations.

— Reporter: 541-383-0387

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An aerial view of a body of water.