Shevlin Park South?

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 Blvd 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
community-wide fundraising effort that includes Bend Parks and 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
published in Bulletin 3-18-2021

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