Bend Park and Recreation District and the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council (UDWC) are teaming up to improve riparian habitat along the Deschutes River and Tumalo Creek with several projects possible in the coming years. Boards of Directors for both organizations are expressing commitment to long-term collaboration that will improve riverbank habitat conditions while supporting sustainable recreational use of the river and surrounding areas.
“In the high desert, riparian areas are some of the most important habitat for wildlife and the long-term health of the rivers. We’re pleased to be working with the Park District to restore these areas and find ways to balance habitat needs with recreational use,” said Ryan Houston, UDWC Executive Director.
Staff has completed an inventory and assessment of riverbank conditions on 10.5 miles of District-owned property along the Deschutes River. This assessment summarized conditions at 13 reaches and identified numerous opportunities for restoration and improved river access.
The collaborative effort between the organizations is built upon a history of working together, dating back to their first collaborative restoration projects at Farewell Bend Park in 2003 where ½ mile of riparian area was restored as part of the park development. In planning their future work together, District and UDWC staff also met with advisors from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Trout Unlimited, and Bend Paddle Trail Alliance to discuss the assessment and potential projects.
“Upper Deschutes Watershed Council is an expert on riverbank habitat and we’re looking forward to working closely together to improve conditions of riverbank areas while balancing recreation use,” said Perry Brooks, landscape architect and project manager, Bend Park and Recreation District.
The first potential project is located along the west side of the Deschutes River, between the Bill Healy Bridge and the Farewell Bend footbridge. The project was rated as a high priority by Upper Deschutes Watershed Council, the advisory committee and District staff.
District staff will work closely with Upper Deschutes Watershed Council staff on applying for a grant to help complete the project. If successful, next steps will include hiring a design team, public outreach, obtaining permits and completing the work in 2019 or 2020.