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Smith Rock State Park due to gain new visitor center, parking/traffic improvements

Smith Rock State Park
KTVZ file
Smith Rock State Park

(Update: Adding Recreational Trails Program funding for C.O. projects)

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) – The Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission approved an initial list of park capital improvement projects Wednesday, to be funded by new general obligation bonds, among them up to $6 million for Smith Rock State Park upgrades, including a new visitor center.

The 2021 Oregon Legislature passed SB 5506 that approved the issuance of $50 million in general obligation bonds to fund the state park facility improvements.

“The legislature’s incredibly generous act allows us to make significant and much needed upgrades to facilities and infrastructure, as well as modernize and expand some campgrounds,” said Lisa Sumption, director of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. “This support for the park system’s future is especially meaningful as we commemorate our centennial in 2022 and our commitment to provide world-class park experiences.”

The agency will receive two disbursements of $25 million each, with the first occurring May 2022 and the second in March 2023. These funds must be spent within three years of payout. 

A summary of the project list shown below is broken into the two different project groups, based on when they’re slated to start general bond funding. Cost estimates are provided as ranges, as the agency continues to refine project work. Construction for the May 2022 projects are expected to begin in the fall of 2022. 

Initial Park Capital Improvement Project List

May 2022

  • Beverly Beach Parkwide Rehabilitation: Upgrade outdated electrical systems throughout the campground, as well as upgrade campsites. Current general obligation bond estimate $3-5 million. 
  • Champoeg State Heritage Area Camping Expansion: Add a new camping loop, riverside cabins, and restroom/shower building, as well as possible upgrades to the current drain field or develop an additional drain field and possible electrical and water systems upgrades.  Current general obligation bond estimate $3-5 million. 
  • Fort Stevens State Park Guard House Rehabilitation: Add a new roof and roof structure, repoint the bricks and replace windows and doors, as well as complete exterior access improvements, utilities and landscape improvements to stop water leaks in the basement, and upgrade water, sewer and electrical connections. Current general obligation bond estimate $1-3 million.
  • Fort Stevens State Park Utilities: Upgrade the utility services to four campground loops, including improving electrical, water, and wastewater utilities and wastewater lift stations. Replace a 1955 shower/restroom, upgrade other restrooms and replace the restroom at the Peter Iredale day-use area. Current general obligation bond estimate $6-8 million.
  • Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site Interpretive Center and Collections Building: Expand the park by acquiring city park property and construct new facilities to house a visitor/interpretive center and collections materials. Current general obligation bond estimate $3-5 million.
  • Portland Women's Forum State Scenic Viewpoint Restroom and Parking Expansion: Construct a restroom building and expand parking at the Portland Women’s Forum. Initial design work is complete for both a restroom and 100-space parking lot that meets National Scenic Area requirements. Current general obligation bond estimate $2-4 million.
  • Silver Falls State Park Camping Expansion & North Falls Complex: Begin the north gateway development that includes a campground with restroom/shower facilities, a North Gateway Visitor Center, and a new North Canyon trailhead and parking lot. Infrastructure improvements such as water, electrical, and sewer systems included, as well as relocation of the current RV dump station. Current general obligation bond estimate $8-10 million.
  • Smith Rock State Park Visitor Center & Congestion: Build a new visitor center and restroom, as well as complete electrical upgrades, and make parking/traffic improvements to meet current and future visitor needs. Work to include some trail improvements. Current general obligation bond estimate $4-6 million.

March 2023

  • Cape Lookout State Park: Relocate A & B loops to higher ground, which includes new roads, new infrastructure and restroom/shower facilities. Remove facilities that are being lost to ocean erosion. Current general obligation bond estimate $8-10 million.
  • Milo McIver State Park: Add a second loop with restroom/shower facilities to the campground. Upgrade the park sewer and water systems. The current water system provides water to both the park and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife fish hatchery within the park. Current general obligation bond estimate $3-5 million.
  • Nehalem Bay State Park Parkwide Upgrade and Yurt Loop: Upgrade existing utilities in three loops. Add a new cabin loop, tent sites, and new campground restrooms within the campground. Add seasonal staff housing, upgrades to several day-use facilities. Current general obligation bond estimate $5-8 million.

The commission also approved more than $1.3 million in allocations of federal Recreational Trails Program funding, which comes from the portion of federal Highway Trust Fund fuel taxes dedicated to non-highway recreational use.

In Central Oregon, that includes $16,000 for the Mt. Jefferson Snowmobile Club's new snowmobile; nearly $200,000 for the city of Prineville's Barnes Butte Multi-Use Trail; and about $30,000 for the Central Oregon Trail Alliance to lease a stand-on skid steer machine to use on projects in Crook County.

Materials provided to the Commission on Wednesday are available on the agency website:

KTVZ news sources


1 Comment

  1. Yeah dude, parking is a clown fiesta at the Park, but more parking spots means bigger crowds, which seems untenable. Maybe just have a big visitor center and an overlook you can drive up to and take some quick pics to post to social media, then gtfo of here. Then maybe less hikers looking for the perfect self spot they hopefully find before requiring a rescue? Why not spend some money on the poor bridge that obviously needs replaced?! The restrooms have always been pretty amazingly good there, maybe drop another one at Northern Point or somewhere near the Phoenix wall and call it good. Actually, a bridge from the Bivy to Phoenix would be rad…

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