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SW Bend neighborhood groups band together in bid to ‘save Deschutes South Canyon’ as a park — not housing

(Update: Adding video and comments from representative and Bend Park and Rec)

'Save Bend Green Space' launches survey in attempt to save popular recreational area

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ)-- Southern Bend residents represented by several neighborhood associations say they fear they may lose the use of land they enjoy -- the Deschutes South Canyon -- to another housing development, and hope it can become a park instead, through public funding or donations.

It's Bend's largest remaining open green space by the river. People use the area for recreational use- walking, biking, and running, among other outdoor activities.

The group launched a Save Bend Green Space group and website, saying the land is very popular for recreational uses and many people in the community want to keep it that way. The community hopes it can be made into a new park, similar to Shevlin Park.

The Central Oregon Irrigation District has been planning for a few years to sell about 80 acres of its property south of the Old Mill District to Pahlisch Homes of Bend, reportedly for $10 million, though some final land-use steps are needed.

It's part of COID's roughly 140-acre property, bounded by the river and Brookswood Boulevard. They would keep the rest of the land, which includes a piped canal and power station

Several neighborhood associations, including Southwest Bend, Southern Crossing and Century West, are coming together in hopes of preserving the undeveloped land, and have also begun an online survey that will close on May 31.

The survey asks people how they use the land and how often. It also asks if the respondents would support a bond measure, or be willing to donate to save the 80 acres from development.

I spoke with Bend Park and Rec Board member Ariel Mendez about whether the effort could work. 

"I really welcome resident input and the effort to try and organize people, to try and figure out how are people using this open space," Mendez said Thursday.

"I think that's all really useful information," he said, but "it doesn't necessarily change the fundamental opportunity of having a role to play. in terms of acquiring property or playing a formal role in that sense. So in that sense, we have to wait and see what  the outcome of this private real estate transaction is." 

He said all formal trails that exist along the river, along the canal pipeline and ways to access the property, will be preserved, regardless of what happens to the rest of the property. 

Southwest Bend Neighborhood Land Use Chair Judy Clinton said she wants it to become a "green lung" for Bend, rather than more development for more housing.  

"More housing is happening all over Bend," Clinton said. "Can't we save one place that is just incredible, available to everybody? That's what we're trying to do -- we're trying to raise money and be able to buy this." 

After the survey is completed, the group will compile the results and present them to the Bend City Council and Bend Park and Rec Board. 

Author Profile Photo

Kelsey McGee

Kelsey McGee is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Kelsey here.



  1. Simple enough, buy it and do what you want with it. You have no right to try and tell someone else what to do with their property. So, either put up or shut up.

      1. Kindly show me where I ever supported the Keystone pipeline as I do not believe I have ever said one way or the next. I do not support “taking” property to benefit a private use and very rarely a public use. This story is for a simple park some locals want for their own, nothing more. Seems as if there was a story along with this same issue 10 or so years back, that guy got tired of the whole thing and clearcut his timber. It could happen again.

      2. Yep, supporting the pipeline is the same as supporting the power lines going through your neighborhood or the water lines, or the sewer lines or the gas lines coming to your house.

  2. Not a bad spot for a managed homeless camp, really. Close to water!

    I’ll bring it up at Council meeting tonight since shelter code is on the agenda

  3. Bends south end on this side of the river doesn’t have a Resort. So someone with deep pockets should build one! Then we will have Resorts at all points of the compass, drawing carloads of people wanting to have fun and love our resources to death and making bend an even nicer place to live.

  4. A perfect spot for the Oregon houseless. Move them all there. While the Biden administration sends all federal resources to care for illegal alien immigrants the least Bend can do is to give resources to allow America’s homeless in to a nice park.

    1. A big part of the reason COID wants to sell the property is the liability they have if the Bums start a wild fire. They continue to chase the Bums off their property, but they come right back.

  5. This area is very dear to many Bendites. We use this trail multiple times a week for running and playing with children. Its heavily used rain, shine and even in deep snow. If this area is destroyed for more Californians housing needs it will be a very sad day in Bend.

    1. Might want to change your handle there, Skeeter. You do realize that Californians live in the same country that you do, right? I’m not sure what you think a “patriot” is exactly, but I am certain that you are sorely mistaken.

      1. The commentators here use the term “Californian” to express their bigotry against anyone who moved here after they did; I don’t think they really care where they come from.

  6. The city of Bend should buy the property, give 200-300 ft setback from the river to the parks department. Then parcel the remainder and keep the profit. I think the current rules don’t allow anything to be built within 100 ft of the river.

  7. Sadly, the almighty dollar will likely win. The same will go for that huge area of land North of Shevlin park. Californians are banging down the door to live somewhere and they have deep pockets. Goodbye Bend, it was nice knowing you. (weeping emoji insert)

  8. In other words, some people living near this COID-owned land have been using it as their own little nature park. COID wants to sell off 80 acres of it and keep 60 in its current form, but that’s not good enough for these folks. They want the rest of us taxpayers to come up with the funds to buy it, so they can continue to use the whole thing as their own little nature park, and prevent any other people from living in the area where they currently enjoy residing; heaven forbid! The only sustainable answer to high housing prices is more housing; simple supply and demand. Hard to believe what Westsiders come up with sometimes.

    1. I dunno about the biggest, but yea. “More housing is happening all over Bend”; she just doesn’t want any of it happening near where she lives. Typical Westside attitude.

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