The dream of a pedestrian bridge crossing the Deschutes River along Bend's southern boundary may have slipped downstream—at least for the foreseeable future.
Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Director Lisa Sumption announced this morning that she will not pursue a rule amendment on the Upper Deschutes State Scenic Waterway. State parks rules currently dictate that no bridge construction is allowed across that portion of the Deschutes. Bend Park and Recreation District asked OPRD to consider a possible rule change last year, which would have allowed BPRD to construct a pedestrian bridge across the river, linking portions of the Deschutes River Trail.
Sumption's decision came after studying a Community Solutions
report, commissioned by OPRD
, that collected public input and assessed current regulations. Based on those findings, Sumption discovered a need for more "coordination with public, private, and other governmental organizations could improve rule effectiveness," but that wasn't enough reason to pursue an amendment to State Scenic Waterway rules, she said.
"I would reconsider amending rules in the future if that would clearly strengthen protection of the waterway," Sumption said in a Wednesday release. "As important as recreation is to our mission, it has to be balanced with our need to protect resources that make recreation possible. Changing rules, especially in a way that might encourage more visible riverside development, is contrary to the purpose of the scenic waterway system.
"While we've finished looking at this one small portion of the Upper Deschutes and plan no further action there, the review has highlighted an important statewide need for better management of the system," Sumption said.
As reported in this week's issue of the Source Weekly, Rep. Gene Whisnant of Sunriver also introduced legislation barring bridge crossings across scenic waterways—legislation that was passed in the state House last month. The state Senate was scheduled to take up the bill in committee today.