Popular Central Oregon activity just got cooler.

Glance towards the Deschutes River on any given day and you’ll spot folks floating on various devices enjoying the water. In fact, the most high-traffic section of the Deschutes River in Bend stretches from the Bill Healy Memorial Bridge through the Old Mild District north to First Street Rapids Park. According to Upper Deschutes Watershed Council Executive Director Kris Knight, an estimated 200,000 people float that section of the Deschutes River each year. With numbers that high, Knight said there are impacts and it will take consistent and dedicated efforts to maintain and preserve clean, natural areas along the river and its banks.

We’re excited to share that starting this summer Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe, located along the river in the northernmost section of the Old Mill District, has vowed to donate $1 from each of their tube float rentals to the UDWC for river restoration and stewardship. This is a phenomenal example of local partners working together for the betterment of the community. Based on past and excepted numbers of floaters during the summer season, Tumalo Creek owner Geoff Frank expects this effort to raise more than $30,000 for the UDWC in 2021 alone.

“Loving that stretch of the river, Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe wants to give back and help out,” Knight said. “They recognize that when the Whitewater Park was built and people started renting tubes, it’s become beyond what people had imagined. For us, preserving this area is something we’ve been working on for almost 20 years with partners including the Old Mill District and Bend Park & Recreation District.” Specifically, Knight said the funds raised will focus on three specific areas:

Restoration Work: The UDWC is planning a project that will improve and consolidate river access points within Riverbend Park, which they will achieve in 2022 alongside Bend Park & Recreation District.

Youth Education: In a typical year, the UDWC works with 3,000 kids annually educating students and the community about maintaining a healthy watershed, etc.

River Stewardship: This involves river cleanup efforts like the UDWC’s 25th Annual Deschutes River Cleanup Day on Saturday, July 31, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. This year volunteers will be working to clean up the river at six different sites along the river from Meadow Camp to Tumalo State Park. Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe is one of the title sponsors for this year’s Deschutes River Cleanup. They’re joined by the Old Mill District, Bend Park & Recreation District, and the City of Bend.

Everyone can do their part to embrace “leave no trace” ethics and participate in grass-roots efforts to improve watershed conditions like picking up miscellaneous garbage or using eco-friendly sunscreen. Learn more at www.upperdeschuteswatershedcouncil.org.