BEND, OR -- Bend Parks and Rec wants to build a pedestrian bridge over the Deschutes River canyon on the south side of Bend. But, in order to do that, they have to change some rules. Currently, no crossings are allowed along the Upper Deschutes, to protect the scenic beauty of the area.
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is holding a public hearing Wednesday evening to hear whether residents favor a rule change. Chris Havel with the State Parks Department will lead the meeting. "If we change our rule, it doesn't mean that suddenly a bike/ped crossing is going to go up across the river. It means that they can apply and then there will be a review of that application, to make sure it complies with all the other scenic waterway rules that apply on that stretch of the river," Havel tells KBND News.
It's believed the rule forbidding bridges only applies to the Upper Deschutes and Metolius rivers and were created to limit growth. "There was this really intense desire to keep development from getting down into that channel that the river flows through. So, they passed a rule that said there will be no crossings. Now, that means roads, that means dams - which is obvious for a scenic waterway. But, it also meant crossings of any kind, including bridges and constructions like this." Wednesday's meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the Bend Parks and Rec building.
The state is expected to make a final decision by February.