On the heels of local writer Katy Bryce's 2016 blog post, "Bend Is Being Loved to Death – And It's My Fault," many more Bendites woke up to the notion that the region is seeing negative impacts from tourism—and also from abundant activity by locals. The Enjoy Protect Respect river stewardship committee mobilized, aiming to encourage people to enjoy, protect and respect the Deschutes River—and spread that message to visitors.
- K.M. Collins
- Green tubes are available to use for free.
Mainly orchestrated by the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council and its many decades of city-wide river clean-ups, groups, including Bend Park and Recreation District, Bend BroadBand, The Old Mill District, Deschutes County Health Services (via the Shared Future Coalition) and Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe, joined as committee stakeholders.
The EPR committee is now in its second year of operation, focused on spreading the message of making river stewardship a habit through several initiatives.
Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe invites people to become Citizen Steward Ambassadors by taking out a Green Tube (free of charge), collecting trash and starting conversations with other floaters about how to help keep the Deschutes River healthy, beautiful and clean. This opportunity is also offered to organizations wanting to do a team building activity, recreate and set a good example all in one.
People can rent a free Green Tube from from Tumalo Creek's Park & Float Kiosk (adjacent to The Pavilion), along with a trash grabber and a mesh bag. While floating, people can pick up the trash they find, place it in their mesh bag, and then deposit it in the trash in a designated bin in Drake Park, at the end of the float.
Mitigating congested parkingParking for tubers has been moved to the Park & Float, adjacent to The Pavilion, near SW Bradbury Way and Simpson Avenue. From there, patrons can rent a tube and catch a shuttle to the put-in and at the take-out. This is meant to relieve congestion at Riverbend Park and overcrowded side streets.
Free life jacket hire
Free life jacket rentals are available at Riverbend Park (the typical float put-in), May 25 through Sept. 3. This stewardship amenity is offered for kids and adults. Life jackets are to be returned by closing.
Annual River Cleanup
Locals are encouraged to join EPR and the Upper Deschutes River Watershed Council on Saturday, July 27 for the annual Deschutes River Cleanup. Volunteers help remove harmful weeds, instream debris and various rubbish from the river.
- Nate Wyeth
- A full mesh bag trash receptacle, post-Green Tube floating.
Basic recommendations to protect the riverThe EPR group also has other basic recommendations, which locals may have heard about before.
"We hope that floaters and recreational river users will work together to keep our river healthy by securing personal belongings and trash, by abstaining from alcohol and other substance use while on the river and modeling positive behavior for others while on the river," says Jessica McDonald, prevention communications coordinator for Deschutes County Health Services' Shared Future Coalition, and head of the EPR committee.
In addition, the EPR committee recommends people float with a buddy or group, and to wear a life jacket. Last year, someone died on the Upper Deschutes River south of Bend—along with several other close calls for individuals floating without life jackets and alone. To protect delicate vegetation, the committee reminds people to only enter and exit the river at approved access points.
And finally, the EPR committee encourages locals who are "in the know" about the ways to Enjoy, Protect and Respect the Deschutes River to share what they know with those who might not.