Friday, January 25, 2008

Deschutes River Water Trail Proposal in Bend, Oregon

River trails enable pedestrians, cyclists and nature lovers looking for an accessible outdoor experience. Cities around the nation have discovered that a trail on the river is even better. This idea, referred to as a whitewater park is successful in different parts of the country. Combining recreation needs with wildlife and river preservation, whitewater parks bring a growing variety of gasoline-free visitors to any town with a trickle of water and some foresight. Kayakers, riverboarders, rafters, floaters and standup paddlers are the players riding the water.

An inclusive list of whitewater parks is on . The US National Whitewater Center in North Carolina, East Race Whitewater course outside of Chicago, Clearcreek Whitewater park in Golden, Colorado and the Reno Whitewater park in Downtown Reno, Nevada are examples of towns on-board with whitewater parks. The widespread popularity and resulting financial revenue this type of development brings to inland waterways around the country is inspiring others to do the same.

Wednesday, Jan. 23rd in Bend, Oregon, the Bend Metro Park and Recreation District held a public meeting asking interested residents to comment on three conceptual designs for improvements to the Deschutes River at the Colorado Avenue dam that include a whitewater park and replacing the existing pedestrian bridge with a safer structure.

Jayson Bowerman put the word out and paddlers of every type attended. Standup paddlers from the Bend community that attended the meeting were Kerie Raymond, Tod Wooldridge, Ron Thompson and me, Cristina Acosta. Kerie Raymond was quoted extensively in The Bend Bulletin, Sec. C, page 1, continued to page 5, Jan. 24, 2008. Here's an excerpt:

Residents weigh concepts to improve safety at Bend's Colorado Avenue dam . . . . . . . . Several people who attended said they favored concepts that separated whitewater paddlers, who would gravitate toward the pool-drop area, from floaters and boaters simply passing through. "If you're developing (pools) and (whitewater) play spaces but you can't play because people are constantly coming down, it doesn't work." Raymond said. Raymond said she wanted a design that would work for many river users.

Ron Thompson made the public recommendation to ensure that the proposed new bridge height would be tall enough to accommodate Standup Paddlers.

Keisha Burns of Central Oregon's News Channel 21 KTVZ-TV interviewed me at the meeting. Like Kerie, I'm very supportive of and excited by the proposal. The KTVZ link has a video Here's text excerpts:

Deschutes dam safety improvements win favor. But Colorado spillway plans have no funding, timetable.
By Keisha Burns, KTVZ.COM Posted: Jan 24, 2008 12:02 AM

Central Oregonians shared their thoughts Wednesday night on safety improvements for a popular recreational activity in Bend that has claimed two lives in recent years.
The Deschutes River attracts locals and tourists every summer, but it's the spillway at the Colorado Avenue Bridge dam and spillway that poses a threat to floaters.
The Bend Metro Parkand Rec District does not own the dam, but it is doing its part to help increase boater safety, while taking input from the public.
Cristina Acosta is a stand-up paddler and she said floaters don't always make good judgement while floating in the water.
"Sometimes they don't always judge well, like the winds pick up and their craft is such as a large inner tube," she said.
Snow, ice and wildlife are attracted to the Colorado Dam during the winter, but by summer the potential for trouble floats. . . . Those who attended the meeting were impressed with the ideas and sketches, including Acosta.
"I'm excited to see the mix between the natural riparian areas, with the different water animals being nurtured along, with making it more fun for humans," she said. "I think that's a good combination, I was happy to see that in the sketches."
Laughlin said the public's input is important to get the project going.

Public meetings will continue to be scheduled to allow the public to be involved in the design process.

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