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Bend Park and Rec cancels river floating rentals, sees surge in river trail users

Summer programs canceled, Juniper Fitness Center plans for reopening

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ ) -- Big changes are ahead this summer if you plan to float the Deschutes River in Bend because of the COVID 19 pandemic.

The Bend Park and Recreation District is still partnering with Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe, but it will not offer tube rentals this summer. As of now, Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe will offer paddleboard rentals by reservation only.

Michelle Healy, deputy executive director for the park district, said they did consider delaying the option to rent tubes for later in the summer, but because of the uncertainty of how large social gatherings will be allowed and how many people may turn out to float, they decided against it. 

Healy also said Cascades East Transit is currently unable to run the free Ride the River shuttle, which prompts a concern that people will park in residential neighborhoods because of the lack of transportation. 

"We really do see the value of parks, trails and open spaces, and our community's ability to cope with what is happening," Healy said. "Being able to do that and keep things open has been a result of people being compliant, understanding and flexible."

But the new recreation regulations are not stopping people from utilizing the trails.

Healy said on average, about 100 people a day are walking or running the trails 2-4 times higher than normal this time of year. 

If you enjoy outdoor activities like pickleball, you'll be able to hit the courts at Pine Nursery Park in due time. Bend Park and Recreation is making clarifications on the outdoors guidelines and had to shelve plans to reopen sport courts on Thursday. When they open, the courts will also have new signs on them stating new "do's and dont's" on how to play safely amid this pandemic.

If you were looking for summer programs, you'll have to find new alternatives, as many summer programs are being canceled by Bend Park and Rec in an effort to maintain state guidelines.

Short-term enrichment programs like swim lessons, tennis lesson and craft and cooking classes will be closed for the summer, mainly because facilities are not available for large settings in additional to ensuring state guidelines are followed.

But Bend Park and Rec will continue the majority of its camp options and will also have new options available for families who need more full-time care. 

In an effort to not have large groups over 10 and risk the health of kids, camp sites will extend over schools, park sites and different recreational facilities.

Matt Mercer, recreation services director for Bend Park and Rec, said, “This summer is clearly going to be different in a lot of facets of life, and recreation is going to be one of them."

"Fortunately, I think we are going to be able to provide a lot of great experiences for people," Mercer said. "We are not going to be able to provide all the experiences that people are used to, but the ones we are able to offer will be fun, meaningful and enriching opportunities.”

Mercer said many people are looking forward to the reopening of the Juniper Fitness Center, which they plan to open by the end of the first week of June.

You'll be able to access the fitness center and some group exercise spaces. The pool will be closed until the state guidelines allow for reopening. Juniper Fitness Center is only allowing access on a registration and reservation basis.

Bend / Central Oregon / Coronavirus / Environment / Outdoors / Top Stories
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Arielle Brumfield

Arielle Brumfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Arielle here.



  1. Stay scared, stupid, and comply.

    Whatever you do, don’t educated yourself.

    “In an exclusive interview, Paul Dabisch, a senior research scientist at the Department of Homeland Security’s biodefense research laboratory, said that initial lab tests show sunlight, higher temperatures and humidity are hurdles for the survival of the coronavirus.

    “What we have found so far is that sunlight seems to be very detrimental to the virus,” Dabisch explained. “And so within minutes, the majority of the virus is inactivated on surfaces and in the air in direct sunlight.””

    1. Everything I’ve read suggests you’re much much less likely to catch this virus outside. If you’re riding a bike, walking on a beach, jogging, there’s almost no way you’re going to get it. So I’m not opposed to people floating the river, within reason.
      That said, it loves sustained close proximity, so I’ll pass on LSA concerts for a while.

  2. BPRD should institute a reservation system for the river trail and floating the river so control can be maintained and the reprogramming of society can continue.

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