September 14, 2008 - Bend Bulletin On The River, Fun For A Cause

November 23, 2008
September 14, 2008 - Bend Bulletin On The River, Fun For A Cause

On the river, fun for a cause
Lessons, beverages and a band at conservation group’s event

By Patrick Cliff / The Bulletin

Published: September 14. 2008 4:00AM PST

With a bluegrass band playing and the sun shining, hundreds of people gathered Saturday at McKay Park in Bend to kayak, canoe, play in the river or try a beer brewed for a local conservation group.

People were there as part of the Deschutes River Conservancy’s A Day for the River. The event stretched over miles of the river, with whitewater rafting trips on the Lower Deschutes, a bird hike on the Upper Deschutes, and canoe and kayak trips in between. This was the event’s second year, but the first with events in the park, according to Bea Armstrong, the DRC’s marketing and outreach director.

Neil and Kris McCleary, 54 and 52, respectively, moved to Bend just two weeks ago. Neil, a lifelong fisherman, watched as his wife took casting lessons from Fly and Field Outfitters. Neil watched closely for a smile, hoping she would enjoy it enough to fish with him.

Even though Neil wasn’t giving the lesson, he couldn’t help but describe the casting motion.

“People are too gentle, you have to load it up,” he said as he mimicked casting. But, with her lesson done, Kris wasn’t as into fishing as Neil. She did smile, though.

People were spread across the park, some relaxing in the grass, others wading in the river. Kayaks lined the lawn, while people rowed about a dozen others along the river. Alder Creek Kayak and Canoe gave discounted canoe and kayak lessons, proceeds of which they donated to DRC, like other companies at the event.

Nancy Semich tried a canoe out for just the second time. But the Bend resident of 21 years had never paddled on a river before.

Asked how it went, Semich said, “Well, there’s no current on a lake.”

Not everyone in the park was there to fish or canoe. In the beer garden, Deschutes Brewery sold its new Redband Trout Ale, brewed for the DRC. Proceeds from sales at the beer garden went to DRC, Armstrong said.

Nearby, Milt & The Freewater Jacks, a five-piece bluegrass band, played a mellow concert.

Part of the reason for the event, Armstrong from DRC said, was to raise awareness about water and river issues. To that end, the city of Bend launched its new Be Waterwise campaign to help people understand the effect they have on the river.

Wendy Edde, an environmental program manager for the city, illustrated the point with a diorama of a small, rural town. She sprinkled sand near the forest and fake fertilizer on a front lawn.

She dripped some liquid near plastic cows on a field. Then she sprayed a mist of water over the scene, and the fake contaminants drained into the river.

“We’re trying to teach where stormwater goes,” Edde said. “People think it goes to the sewer, but it goes to the water or into the ground.”

Patrick Cliff can be reached at 541-633-2161 or at

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