Editorial: Last chance to have your say about river plans

November 2, 2021
Editorial: Last chance to have your say about river plans

This is probably your last chance to tell the Bend Park & Recreation District what you think of its plan to change access points to the Deschutes River and protect habitat and erosion.

The park board is scheduled to vote on the plan on Tuesday.

Floating the river has exploded as a recreational activity, especially since taxpayer-funded construction reduced the frightening risk beneath the Colorado Avenue bridge. There were some 267,000 trips of people using the Bend Whitewater Park during the summer of 2021. That’s an all-time high.

Despite that change and the many other places where people can access the river, a park district survey said river access was a top need. There’s also concern about balancing the need to protect wildlife and prevent erosion. The district has 25 district-approved access points, but there are some 94 user-created access points.

The district’s plan is too detailed to adequately summarize here. You can read it for yourself at tinyurl.com/Bendriveraccess. Mostly there’s a lot of consolidation, clearer signage, closing off of some access points, armoring up of areas of erosion, refinement of access and hopes for more help from volunteers.

The district also plans to do more parking analysis to figure out what to do about parking at Farewell Bend Park, which can fill up quickly on a nice day. That gate at the river dock at Harmon Park is going to go — it doesn’t exactly make river access look welcoming. Riley Ranch will get some more access points.

If you want the fur to fly, you can start talking about dog access. There are a couple pages in the plan devoted just to that. It was difficult for the district to find agreement. People love their dogs, but dog access causes conflicts for other users. The district ended up with a project for an off-leash dog water access at Riverbend Park. Is that enough? Will dogs follow the rules?

We encourage you to at least look the plan over. They are your parks. You can email park district board members about it at board@bendparksandrec.org and the board also allows public comment at its meetings. The meeting is scheduled to start at 5:30. More information about it here tinyurl.com/Bendparkmeeting

By Bulletin Editorial Board

Share this post
An aerial view of a body of water.