District plans for Shevlin’s future

Bend Park & Recreation District official says park is being “loved to death”

By Hillary Borrud / The Bulletin / @hborrud

How to get involved

Questions

• People who want to fill out a questionnaire on Shevlin Park can visit www.bend parksandrec.org/Current_Projects /Park-Projects/.

• Park district employees will also be at Shevlin Park, located at 18970 Shevlin Park Road, to distribute questionnaires and talk with people who use the park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 2, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 16.

Committee assignment

• To apply for the citizen advisory committee that will work on a new management plan, email your contact information, along with no more than two pages describing your experience with public participation, personal perspective and approach to Shevlin Park and other projects and why you want to participate on the committee, to Landscape Architect Jim Figurski at Jim@bendparks andrec.org.

• People can also send the application to 799 SW Columbia St., Bend, OR 97702.

• The deadline to apply is Aug. 8.

Population growth and the development of Bend’s west side continue to bring more hikers, bikers, runners and picnickers to Shevlin Park each year, and park officials say it’s time to plan for the future, to avoid additional wear and user conflicts at the much-loved spot.

The Bend Park & Recreation District is working on a new management plan for Shevlin Park, and the first step is a questionnaire that asks park users about their experiences and what they value about the park.

The existing park management plan dates back to 1992, when the population of Bend was around 20,000, according to the district. The city now has more than 80,000 residents.

Scott Wallace, chairman of the park district board, said Shevlin is the park district’s flagship regional park, and the number of people who recreate there increased dramatically in the 22 years since the last management plan. Wallace said the district needs an updated document to reflect that.

“It’s being loved to death, and there’s lots more users doing different things … hiking, biking and picnicking, and less intrusive or active types of uses,” Wallace said. “I think the patterns of use have definitely changed, with mountain bikes and some of the other new things. I mean, you have people slack-lining on trees. There’s lots of things we haven’t envisioned, or couldn’t have envisioned, 20 years ago.”

Jim Figurski, the district’s landscape architect, said there have been reports of conflicts between mountain bikers and people walking on trails. “A lot of the trails in Shevlin Park are single track, narrow trails,” Figurski said. District Community Relations Manager Jan Taylor said some people who wanted a more quiet experience in the park ran into noise from group activities.

People have also reported problems due to off-leash dogs at Shevlin Park. City law and park district rules require pet owners to keep their dogs on leashes, except at designated off-leash parks, and Shevlin is not one of those parks.

Another issue is the degradation of some park areas. Sasha Sulia, natural resources manager for the park district, said the main problem arising from more people using the park is that they have blazed many new trails through previously undisturbed areas. Last year, the park district attempted to address the problem by resurfacing Shevlin’s Tumalo Creek Trail, to make it easier for people to follow the pathway. Work on the trail wrapped up in the spring, but the district is still working to restore areas of the park where people created their own trails.

“Now, we’re trying to slowly start restoring user-made trails that we don’t want people on anymore,” Sulia said. “There’s quite a few, and that’s part of the surveying, is to try to figure out how many user-made trails are out there.”

Sulia said the district will evaluate how much damage people cause to natural resources on each unofficial trail, and whether it makes sense to keep any of these trails. The management plan is also tied to the district’s future plans for the entire Bend park system. In the long term, the park district plans to build a trail along Tumalo Creek that will connect Shevlin Park to a future extension of the Deschutes River Trail north along the river. Those connections might result in more people hiking, biking and running through Shevlin Park, and Wallace said it is important to update the park management plan now to prepare for those changes.

“Long term, we’re thinking how every one of these things will tie together,” Wallace said.

— Reporter: 541-617-7829, hborrud@bendbulletin.com