For groups with shovel-ready projects in need of a cash infusion, Visit Bend’s new Bend Sustainability Fund is open for applications.
From July 1-30, individuals and organizations can apply for grants earmarked for projects that protect, steward, or create sustainable recreational resources for outdoor experiences in and around Bend.
“Oregon law requires a portion of transient room tax dollars (TRT) to go back into tourism promotion and tourism-related facilities, which is how Visit Bend exists,” explained Serena Gordon, Visit Bend’s Sustainability Manager. “In Bend, our ‘tourism-related facilities’ include not just brick and mortar buildings, but the trails and recreational assets that bring people here and make Bend special.”
Projects eligible for consideration must:
- protect, steward, or create a tourism-related facility with an impactful life of >10 years
- have a substantial use by visitors
- have a clear timeline and measurable outcomes within the next 12 months
- have grassroots, community support
“Projects including trail connectivity, bike parks, river accessibility, equestrian trail improvements, trailhead parking and winter recreation access are all examples of the kinds of proposals we’re seeking,” Gordon added. “We’re looking for projects that have already cleared all known barriers and can hit the ground running once they’re funded.”
It’s a welcome boost not just for tourists who journey to Bend for outdoor recreation, but for locals eager to see protection and enhancement of Bend’s cherished wild places. “As a business owner invested in our sacred environment, I find it a top priority to care for the earth and its creatures while we humans recreate to sustain our need for fun and rejuvenation,” explained Dave Nissen, owner of Wanderlust Tours and a Bend resident since 1991. “Having a dedicated funding source to tend our wild places will go a long way toward improving outdoor experiences for locals and visitors alike. Wanderlust Tours is fully aligned with Visit Bend’s leadership and the Bend Sustainability Fund.”
At bendsustainabilityfund.com, users can see a list of frequently asked questions, find links to apply for a grant and review recordings from last month’s info session. The funding cycle opening July 1 will close July 30, 2021 so organizers can evaluate applications. Grants will be issued in early October, with $500,000 in funds distributed among chosen applicants.
Representatives from the Forest Service, the City of Bend, Bend Park and Recreation District and the Bureau of Land Management all provided input on the creation of the Bend Sustainability Fund. Those groups will also have input on which projects are selected to receive grant funds.
“A fund like this adds a great option to address access and recreation infrastructure needs for public lands,” explained Lisa Machnik, the Recreation, Heritage, Lands and Partnerships Staff Officer for the Deschutes National Forest. “We’re thrilled that Visit Bend has worked so closely with local land managers to ensure these funds get channeled to projects that benefit not just people who recreate here, but public lands and waters as well. This fund will support sustainable use and help protect habitat for the wildlife that also call Central Oregon home.”