Cascade Lakes Welcome Station Unveiled

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(Photo above | Courtesy of CS Construction/Ross Chandler Photography)

Facility to Serve as Gateway for Visitors to Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway & Beyond

A new $1.7 million U.S. Forest Service facility serving as an informative gateway for visitors to Central Oregon’s pristine and hugely popular Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway has been officially unveiled on Bend’s Century Drive.

A recent ribbon-cutting ceremony heralded the opening of the Cascades Lakes Welcome Station, led by Deschutes National Forest in cooperation with nonprofit partner Discover Your Forest.

Sited strategically at the junction of Forest Road 41 (turn-off to Dillon Falls) and connecting to some of the region’s most popular recreation sites, the new post will provide an opportunity for visitors to receive personalized service every day of the week through the busy summer and fall seasons.

The 2,083 square foot, rustic-style, wood-framed building, which also offers ample parking, lies in close proximity to the Deschutes River Trail and the southern sections of Phil’s Trail Complex, and will serve as an access point to the Cascade Lakes Highway for the thousands of visitors annually looking to hike, mountain bike, fish and boat in the Deschutes National Forest. A tunnel under Century Drive allows hikers and bikers to safely navigate across the busy thoroughfare.

“Above all, we hope the new Welcome Station is a place where visitors will have convenient access to Forest Service employees to ask questions about upcoming trips, help plan activities and obtain any permits or maps they need to recreate safely and legally on the forest,” said Kevin Larkin, district ranger on the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District.

The public facility features interpretive panels, revolving displays and various retail opportunities as well as informational, educational and recreational programs for all ages, with exterior areas also able to host talks and classes.

Additionally, visitors will have convenient access to a trailhead just outside of the station which accesses over one hundred miles of non-motorized hiking and biking trails.

Construction began in October 2014 with funding from the Deschutes National Forest — in part from the proceeds of the sale of the Bend Pine Nursery to Bend Parks and Recreation District in 2004 — as well as funds from Oregon Department of Transportation and a Federal Highways Administration grant designed to support projects on scenic byways.

The project was designed by Bend-based BBT Architects and built by local firm CS Construction.

The Welcome Station features a main public space, kitchenette, storage room and administrative offices, with innovative design features including exposed glulam beams, columns and trusses using reclaimed wood flooring sourced locally from LongHorn Lumber in Bend, exterior wood lap siding with wood board and batt siding above a native lava stone base and aluminum clad wood doors and windows.

Project Architect Kevin Shaver said BBT reduced the environmental impact of the facility by preserving the trees between the highway and building. Additionally, site lighting was reduced to encourage elk grazing.

In-keeping with the sustainable philosophy, Eileen Obermiller, principal of Central Oregon-based landscape designers Dappled Earth, said the landscaping featured locally native grasses, perennials, shrubs and trees selected for mitigation and interpretive purposes.

She added, “While native plants are found throughout the visitor center grounds, you can view the Ethno Botanical garden where interpretative signs identify specific plants and how they were used by early people for food, medicine and ceremonies.

“Along either side of the entry walk you will see rain gardens full of native perennials blooming from spring through summer.

“Visitors will notice how the earth is contoured to direct rainwater and snow melt from the roof and hard surfaces to the rain garden which will provide supplemental water for these plants. As you wander further through the landscape, interpretive signs also explain some of the geological features you will see along the Cascade Lakes Highway.

“The interpretive theme Journey of Water describes how glacial ice carved the land, how lava dams created lakes, and how springs feed into the Deschutes River.”

Obermiller observed that the use of native plants accomplished several sustainable objectives, including: maintaining as much of the existing forest as possible preserves the ecology of the forest and limits the amount of mitigation needed; planting only native species reduces the need for irrigation as little to no supplemental irrigation will be required once the plants are established; and native plants do not need fertilizers and special soils which reduces electricity, water and transportation demands.

Discover Your Forest is a nonprofit partner of the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests. Along with parent nonprofit organization Discover Your Northwest, it is committed to connecting visitors and volunteers with Central Oregon’s National Forests through visitor services, accessible interpretive programs and engaging events.

The stated mission key objectives are to engage youth to reach the next generation of stewards through educational outreach and career pathway programs, deepen the personal commitment and involvement of the local community through volunteerism, provide visitor services, interpretive programs and events to increase visitor numbers and diversity, pursue funding to expand educational outreach, volunteer stewardship and career pathway programs and enhance the quality of visitor experiences.

This 66-mile historic highway was selected by Scenic America as one of the nation’s ten most important byways. It became a National Scenic Byway in 1998 because of its outstanding scenic, natural and recreational qualities. It was also dedicated as a National Forest Scenic Byway in 1989. The byway follows a journey of water through a volcanic landscape accentuated by 14 alpine lakes. Reflected in many lakes are scenic views of Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top, and South Sister. The byway is perceived as a great way of getting in touch with cultures and communities of Central Oregon. The Cascade Lakes have been a popular outdoor family adventure for generations of Central Oregon residents and visitors.

Open: March 19-27, 8am-4pm, March 28-April 30, Saturday and Sunday only, 8am-4pm, May 1, 7 days a week, 8am-4 pm through early fall.

USFS Cascade Lakes Welcome Station
Cascade Lakes Welcome Station, 18390 Century Drive, Bend, OR 97702.
Located on a national scenic byway on Century Drive near the junction of Forest Road 41.
Contractor: CS Construction
Project Cost: $1.7 million
Square Footage: 2,083
Financing: Funding from the Deschutes National Forest, Oregon Department of Transportation and Federal Highways Administration grant designed to support projects on scenic byways
Project Manager: Matt Freeman
Supervisor: Lou Schmitt
Architect: BBT Architects, Inc.
Principal Architect: Kevin Shaver
Structural Engineer: Walker Structural Engineering
Civil Engineer: Hickman, Williams & Associates
Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, Low Voltage Engineer: MFIA Consulting Engineers
Landscaping: Dappled Earth
Subcontractors and Suppliers:
AM-1 Roofing, Inc., Bend Heating & Sheet Metal, Inc., Grizzly Mountain Excavation, LLC, I&J Carpets, Inc., North Country Building Specialties, LLC, JT Plumbing, Tomco Electric, Inc., JKD Construction, Inc, Moye’s Drywall, Old World Cobblestone, Inc., Cascade Coatings, Inc., Cement Elegance, Knife River, Streamline Masonry, LLC, American Sprinklers, Inc., Energy Conservation Insulation Co., Inc., Abbas Well Drilling, Inc., H.A. McCoy Engineering & Land Survey llc, Brandsen Hardwood Floors Inc, Freemont Millwork Co, Bell Hardware of Bend Inc., Johnson Brothers TV & Appliance, Parr Lumber, Western Wood Structures, Farwest Steel Reinforcing Company, Fab-Tech MFG., Inc., RubberForm Recycled Products, LLC, Western Protective Coatings, Miller Lumber, Vern Samples Landscaping

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Simon Mather CBN Feature Writer

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