Landscaping and construction crews have taken to the banks of the Deschutes River over the past several months. But very soon, they’ll give way to some sparkly new additions.
Bend Park and Recreation District (BPRD) crews are nearing the end of the road for two major projects along the riverbank — the Riverbend South Access and Restoration Project, and the Drake Park Project.
Between the Bill Healy Bridge and the Farewell Bend footbridge, people will get access to a few new access points along the Deschutes within a matter of days. It’s the result of a partnership with the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council to allow floaters to get in and out in specific places without hurting the habitat.
“Primarily, it was which areas had the most degradation or use and needed restoration,” said Jason Powell, the Construction Manager for BPRD. “And also how it fit into allowing people access to the river, what kind of work we need to do to stabilize them to allow access there.”
They include a few special features to draw the masses.
“There are large boulders placed below water level terraced back to the bank so people can traverse those boulders to the water,” Powell said. “There are also, depending upon feasibility, there are stone steppers that are a much smoother, easier way to walk down and then we do have some ramped trail surface that will allow you to get down to like a terraced level.”
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The Upper Deschutes Watershed Council is running volunteer planting groups next to the new river access points through May to make sure the flora and fauna are ready as well.
At the first access point by the Bill Healy Memorial Bridge, crews are also adding informational plaques to teach visitors about the history of mill workers using the site to get logs into the river.
It’ll be a matter of days until the pathway is reopened and the access points are available to floaters.
Just down the river, the Drake Park Project has a little further to go — about “65% complete” according to BPRD’s Development Manager, Brian Hudspeth.
In December, crews started work extending the Deschutes River Trail through Drake Park all the way to Pacific Park with a boardwalk, and improving the existing trail.
“Only thing we got left to do now is finished building this boardwalk behind me- we got some work to do there,” Hudspeth said. “Got to finish the boardwalk around Corner Point and pave in the trails. Landscape navigation, some button-up work, but that’s about it.”
That project is set to finish in late June.
They hope both projects will prepare the river for summer and the oncoming crowds.
“It’s a huge missing link in the Deschutes River Trail and this will complete that section through town, so it’s an awesome project,” Hudspeth added.