staff report / The Bulletin

The Deschutes National Forest will start late this year or early next year on a 6-mile, multi-use path between Sunriver, Newberry National Volcanic Monument and the Deschutes River Trail, the Forest Service announced.

The plan is subject to appeals for 45 days, according to District Ranger Kevin Larkin of Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District, which decided to move ahead with the project and also found it caused no significant environmental impact.

The plan calls for a 10-foot-wide asphalt path from Lava Lands Visitor Center to Sunriver, along with 10 parking spaces near the Sunriver boundary, map and interpretive panels along the way and improvements to the trail system at Benham East Day Use Area. Construction would result in felling 156 trees to accommodate the new trail, according to Larkin.

Most of the path will follow an old road alignment, which limits impact on the soil and the need to remove trees, according to the announcement Thursday from the Deschutes National Forest.

The path will allow walkers and bikers to travel between the three sites and will be accessible to nonmotorized travelers, according to the announcement.

The Oregon Department of Transportation contributed to the design and will be involved in construction as well. The $2.3 million project is partially funded by a grant of $1.87 million grant from the Federal Highways Administration, Public Lands Highways Discretionary Program.

The area of the trail is 18 miles south of Bend and northeast of Sunriver.

Anyone who provided comment during the public comment phase may appeal the project, according to Larkin's decision. The public comment period ran from Dec. 12 to Jan. 11. Appeals must be addressed to the appeal deciding officer in Portland or emailed to appeals-pacificnorthwest Anyone eligible to appeal should have been notified by mail.

Other aspects of the project include widening the entrance/exit to Lava Lands Visitor Center, a new sidewalk, double-vault toilet and bike rack.