Bend has an historic and unique opportunity to protect an area on the Deschutes River, like a Shevlin Park or Riley Ranch in the Southern part of town. Now it is Central Oregon Irrigation District (COID) land west of Brookswood Boulevard and east of Mt. Bachelor Village.

This land is a needed refuge for people from all over town to hike, walk their dogs, enjoy big trees and the river, bike, run, bird watch or just sit and think.

The land has large rock outcrops, interesting topography, mature ponderosas and Douglas firs, wildflowers, important habitat for nesting birds and various mammals. This property also functions as a local transportation corridor with bike and pedestrian trails linking southern Bend to the Mill District, downtown and the Larkspur Trail. All this in the middle of Bend.

The Bulletin editorial of Feb.18, and columns by Allan Bruckner and Cylvia Hayes, observed that Bend will need more parks and open space as it continues to grow and densify. Many Bend residents are upset with clear cutting of large ponderosas to make way for new housing developments.

If no action is taken, this special land will be a victim, like many others recently, to complete tree and shrub removal and land leveling, thereby destroying its wildlife and scenic values. The big difference this time is that this property is the LAST remaining large natural parcel on the river.

This property is slated to become a large subdivision. For the Bend community is this the best use of this unique land? I don’t think it is. I propose that this property be saved as permanent open space while providing COID with reasonable compensation.

In its present state, lots of trees provide shade and a cooling effect in summer and a more healthful and better environment for Bend’s citizens throughout the year. The property is home to numerous plants and animals, with many depending on the nearby river. It provides respite to people seeking solace in a natural area conveniently located inside the city. It is beloved by many residents as evidenced by the number of people using its many trails.

With Bend’s current densification plans, citizens will increasingly need natural open spaces. This property is the last opportunity for saving, for public use, such a significant tract of unique undeveloped land anywhere near the river. It should not become yet another housing development when it is so special and treasured. The Deschutes River, ponderosas, and rock outcrops are exactly the features that define the natural setting that is Bend.

We can all agree that we are fortunate that we do have some great large parks: Shevlin Park on the west side, Riley Ranch in the northwest, Pine Nursery in the northeast, but nothing in the southwest.

This is our opportunity to establish a new, large natural park in the southern part of Bend. Compared to the existing large parks, its central location will provide good access from all directions and new opportunities for enjoyment by all of Bend residents.

In the 1920’s a visionary civic organization, the Women’s Civic Improvement League, saved Drake Park for posterity. Why can’t we do the same thing for future Bend?

With a communitywide fundraising effort that includes Bend Park & Rec, this property can be preserved as a large natural park. With this vision, let’s aspire to creating a significant new park along the river, a place where nature can continue to flourish, to be enjoyed by all of Bend’s residents.

This new park would be a big anniversary present for the people of Bend — what a wonderful way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Drake and Shevlin parks.

Judy Clinton lives in Bend.

(8) comments

Stig

Jim, one of the most significant parts of the COID property that would make up "Shevlin Park South" is a dirt road that runs along a stretch of rapids and ends at the gate at the end of your street. The value of this feature is understood by the many people who drive to Pine Street and park outside your gate to walk it. So yes, you do have very reasonable access to the river.

The state scenic waterway act would not have prohibited the park district's footbridge. That's why the riverside land owners who oppose the bridge tried to change the law. The Bulletin explained this way back in the days when it did actual reporting. Google "Gene Whisnant's give-away to riverfront property owners."

People may or may not like Judy's proposal as it is. My point here is that she'd have a much stronger case for a big community effort if "Shevlin Park South" connected to the Deschutes National Forest as the park district has long intended. That would make it even more similar to the real Shevlin Park, which connects to national forestland via the Mrazek Trail. And Judy's claim that "Shevlin Park South" would be an important part of a trail transportation corridor would be more valid.

JimC

Stig, to the south (upstream) of our property, we don't have reasonable access. This is the section that BPRD wanted to build a bridge and ran afoul of Upper Deschutes River Scenic Waterway -- Oregon Administrative Rule 736-040-0073, Section D (f) "New bridges will not be permitted." This is the same bridge prohibition that applies to the river section farther south outside the UGB that has the federal designation. I agree that the legislation was pushed by nearbly landowners. It was to change the rule from an OAR to a statute givng it more teeth. But the OAR carries the weight of law, which is why Oregon Parks turned down the bridge plan. Unfortunately, the Bulletin did not clearly report the facts and instead blamed the property owners for stopping the bridge. Had there been zero property owner involvement, the bridge would still have been prohibited by Oregon Parks because that's what the OAR tells them to do.

JimC

The river section to our north (downstream) of our property has the COID diversion and the gravel road between the river and the pipe. I have easy access to this road and I certainly agree that lots of people also use the road. In the winter I plow the snow to keep the access and parking spaces clear. This road is not an official part of the trail system because COID needs to use it for maintenance. I guess there is zero chance that COID would cede this road to be part of a park. A Shevlin South park would be located miles downstream from their diversion dam.

JimC

As to the "Shevlin South" idea. Our property is NOT "just downstream". In fact we live upstream so far, like over two miles, that it would be of minimal benefit to us personally. Please consider that Judy is working on this for its value to the public.

JimC

In fact, the bridge plan was rejected by Oregon Parks because it would violate

the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act--bridges are clearly prohibited in that section

of the river. It was nothing to do with nearby landowners.

I know some River Rim residents want a convenient bridge, but it

is simply illegal. In their decision, Oregon Parks said that if anything,

protections should be increased. Judy and I don't live close enough that we

would benefit from or be hurt by a bridge. We can't see, and don't have reasonable

access to that section of the river.

ChrisJ

I agree with Stig about the footbridge. It should be built and not scuttled due to the narrow interests of a few wealthy property owners. However, let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good here. Judy Clinton presents a powerful and compelling case for preserving this special piece of land as a park for future generations to enjoy. Southwest Bend needs and deserves a large park. We don’t need another high-density, ticky-tacky development that will, by the way, not solve or even alleviate the affordable housing issues facing Bend. Any homes built on this property will most likely be more of the luxury type than the affordable. Homes built on a nearby parcel in 2018 started around $599K. Thousands of people use this land for recreation, relaxation, wildlife viewing, and commuting each week. It is the last piece of land of its type. Let’s preserve it as a park for future generations to enjoy.

Stig

Clinton's property is just upstream of the park she proposes and downstream of the bridge.

Stig

Clinton's case for a huge community investment would be more powerful if her "Shevlin Park South" connected at the end of the COID property to the Deschutes National Forest by means of a footbridge long planned by the Bend park district. However, this footbridge has been stalled by wealthy riverside property owners using phony environmental arguments. One of these is Judy Clinton, whose seven-figure property sits in a gated neighborhood just downstream from the park she proposes and just upstream from the bridge the park district (and many Bend residents) have long planned. Judy, will you now lead a community effort to to build a bridge and a park?

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