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Game of Groans 

Locals, get ready for another summer of sun, fun...& roadblocks?

Locals, these pages are for you. As the summer—and summer events—season kicks into high gear navigating Central Oregon becomes like a high-stakes game of "Life" mixed with "Sorry!" Here's some info you might want to know, delivered with a little local humor.

(Look for this week's print edition to play this in real life!)

click to enlarge DARRIS HURST/CHRIS MILLER
  • Darris Hurst/Chris Miller
So you wanna float the river?

According to the 2018 Bend Park and Recreation District river use report, over 250,000 people floated the Deschutes River from June to September—up from just over 213,000 in 2017. According to Julie Brown, communications and community events manager for BPRD, the counts are about 20 percent low due to some technology glitches.

Heat, holidays and special events seem to bring the most sandal-clad people to the river. On a 97-degree Sunday in July, 4,577 people floated the river, according to BPRD.

According to a 2018 Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe zip code rental analysis, people from 48 states rented from Tumalo Creek—and visitors from as far away as the Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden also rented gear.

According to BPRD, Riverbend Park is the most used access point for river users—with Drake Park being the top take-out spot—followed by Farewell Bend Park (from where Bend gets its name).

Tumalo Creek 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.

People can rent a free Green Tube from Tumalo's Park & Float Kiosk (adjacent to The Pavilion on Southwest Simpson Avenue), along with a trash grabber and a mesh bag.

Check yourself before you wreck yourself

The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue has averaged 132 missions over the past three years. This June, they've rescued someone off North Sister and a hiker in the Tumalo Falls area.

To avoid being a possible "body recovery," Lt. Bryan Husband, DCSO SAR coordinator, said search and rescue encourage carrying the "10 Essentials," which include:

  • Navigation
  • Sun Protection
  • Insulation
  • First Aid Supplies
  • Fire
  • Repair Kit/Tools
  • Nutrition
  • Hydration
  • Emergency shelter

Husband recommends people place their cell phone in airplane mode when not in use to conserve battery life. And—and this should be a no-brainer—to tell another person where you plan on going.

Butte go boom!

Last summer the old joke about watching the fireworks at Pilot Butte—and then watching the Butte catch on fire—became a bad punch line, because someone actually set the Butte on fire.

The 29-year-old man who admitted to lighting the illegal firework that lit the Butte on fire was sentenced to three months in jail. People who start fires from illegal fireworks can be on the hook for restitution from the damage caused.

According to the National Fire Protection Agency, on average each year, fireworks start 18,500 fires, including 1,300 structure fires and 300 vehicle fires. These fires cause an annual average of three deaths, 40 civilian injuries, and $43 million in direct property damage.

Music and brews

According to Noelle Fredland, marketing director for the Old Mill District and the Les Schwab Amphitheater, the concerts and Bend Brewfest bring about 80,000 to 120,000 people each summer, depending on the lineup and the number of shows.

Fredland said this summer would be lighter, due to only having 13 shows and not as many sold-out artists as in years past.

A youth sports takeover

From July 19 to 21, 3,200 student-athletes and their families come to Bend for the Oregon Lacrosse Classic. The games are held at Big Sky Park & Luke Damon Sports Complex, Fraley Ranch Polo fields, Pine Nursery Park and Buckingham Elementary School.

Ryan Powell, who runs the event, said the tournament brings about 9,000 people to Bend ,including the players, coaches and families.

Summertime, and the driving's easy—not!

Whether it's getting your car dripped on by a mystery liquid underneath the Franklin Avenue tunnel, sitting at the Reed Market and Bond Street roundabout or the more-than-unpleasant interchange around Hwy 97 and Empire Avenue, summer traffic can suck—and the influx of summer visitors can definitely increase traffic snarls.

The City of Bend only announces road closures approximately one week ahead, but here are some of the most up-to-date places you may want avoid, unless you like flaggers or waiting for Siri to re-route you.

The roundabout at the intersection of Northwest Shevlin Park Road and Mt. Washington Drive is closed with detours until June 27.

Some of Empire Avenue is going to be a hot mess for most of the summer and into the fall. It will be closed at Purcell Boulevard for the construction of a new roundabout for about eight weeks, starting June 17. And Empire between Northeast Third and 18th Streets will see flaggers, road and lane closures for chip seal street restoration, starting about Oct. 7.

The never-ending funhouse of mirrors that is the Mirror Pond dredging debate

On June 19, the Bend City Council was scheduled to convene to vote on a resoluation that would have the City contribute up to 50 percent of the overall Mirror Pond preservation project, or $3 million, whichever is less, over a 10-year period. The Bend Park and Recreation District has budgeted over $6.5 million toward the Mirror Pond Community Vision for bank restoration, riparian habitat and the Deschutes River Trail project. The two parties were expected to agree upon a Memorandum of Understanding and Intergovernmental Agreement on June 19, by which the Park District would spend an additional $300,000 on the preservation project, according to the Mirror Pond Resolution from the City.

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