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‘The district’s boss is community members’: BPRD seeks public input on river plans

(Updated: adding video, comments from park planner)

Plans for planting vegetation, adding fencing and more to banks of Deschutes

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Erosion, sunscreen and a lot of trash is taking a toll on the water and riverbanks of the Deschutes River. That's why the Bend Park and Recreation District has released a draft of its plan to restore 14 parks along the river. 

BPRD staff completed an inventory and assessment of riverbank conditions on district property as a precursor to the river access and riparian habitat restoration plan. The assessment summarized conditions and identified opportunities for restoration and improved river access.

There are 25 designated access points and 94 user-created access points -- meaning people have trampled over vegetation to make their own paths in many places.

BPRD received a grant for technical assistance from the National Park Service, Rivers and Trails Conservation Assistance program for completion of the plan. As part of the project, the district evaluated the existing access points and identified opportunities to improve and consolidate access points.

There's a total of 27 proposed projects, and 12 of those are ranked as high priority. They include increased signage, improved accessibility and off-leash dog water access.

A park planner says they've made some changes to the original plan after hearing from community members. One of those will happen at Columbia Park -- where river access is closed due to erosion.

"In our plan, we had said that we're going to close that and restore that with habitat. But community members thought differently, and they really encouraged the park district to find a way to reopen that access point," Sarah Bodo, park planner, told NewsChannel 21 on Wednesday. "That's really one of the changes in the plan. The district board has said, 'Yes, let's go ahead and take a look at how feasible it is to build something that's sustainable at Columbia Park.'"

The Deschutes River Access and Habitat Restoration Plan draft is now available for public review and comment here.

Community members are encouraged to give their input.

"The district's boss is community members -- because property taxes go towards the facilities and services that the district provides. It's really important for us to hear from community members." Bodo said.

You can join the conversation by commenting online, or attend one of following the public meetings:

  • Now to Aug. 20: Review materials and comment online.
  • Aug. 3: BPRD Board of Directors Meeting, 5:30 p.m. Staff presentation and public visitor comment session.
  • Aug. 4: Dual Language Outreach Event at Country Sunset Mobile Home Park, 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
  • Aug. 5: Public Meeting on Zoom, 5:30 p.m.
  • Aug. 10: Public Meeting at Larkspur Community Center, 5:30 p.m.
  • Aug. 11: Dual Language Outreach Event at Parrell Mobile Villa, 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

It'll cost $20,000 and funding will come from property taxes and grants. The district said it anticipates the projects in the plan will be constructed over a 10-year time horizon.

For more information about the river access and habitat restoration plan, visit the Deschutes River Access and Habitat Restoration Plan project.

Article Topic Follows: Bend

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Carly Keenan

Carly Keenan is a multimedia journalist and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Carly here.


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