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Colorado Avenue Dam Improvements

What is the Colorado Dam?

Built in 1915, the Colorado Street Dam was constructed to provide a mill pond for the Brooks-Scanlon and Shevlin-Hixon lumber mills. The mill pond above the dam stored logs in the river allowing easy access to the Ponderosa pine cut nearby. 




Bond Measure 9-86 has passed! What are the next steps?

The Bond Measure will fund a safe passage for boaters and tubers, improvements to the pedestrian bridge, and some improvements to McKay Park. Three channels will be constructed: a safe passage channel, a natural river area with enhanced fish and wildlife habitat and the whitewater surfpark with four wave features.

The Bend Paddle Trail Alliance has committed to contribute $1.13M for this project, about 12% of the overall cost of the total package of improvements. Please attend our events, help spread the word and donate some funds to help finish this monumental improvement on the Deschutes River.

Why are these improvements being made?

The 2005 opening of Farewell Bend Park provided more convenient public access to the Deschutes River.  As a result, during the warm summer months thousands of people float a stretch of the river from Farewell Bend, through the Old Mill District, to Drake Park in Downtown Bend.  The proposed Colorado Dam improvements will provide a continuous paddle trail between the two parks.  Whitewater features incorporated into the design will also provide for recreational opportunities that can have positive local economic benefits. It is estimated that whitewater play features in Golden, CO bring approximately 2 million dollars per year to the local economy.


What will the improvements look like?

Preliminary plans call for a new pedestrian bridge, and a left-side channel designed for river user bypass and a river right channel for improved fish passage.  A third, mid-stream channel will provide whitewater surfpark features.

Who can use the new facilities?

All river users will be able to use either the whitewater channel or the bypass channel. The river will have improved access from a new pedestrian bridge, McKay Park and the new Miller's Landing Park.  Many activities including floating, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, fishing, bird watching and boater watching will be enhanced with the proposed improvements.     


What is the Miller's Landing Project?

In 2010, the Trust for Public Land coordinated the purchase of the 4.6 acre Miller's Landing property on river right, just downstream from the Colorado Dam. The acquisition was integral to the overall vision for the area and is now owned and managed by Bend Parks & Rec. The new development of this community river park will provide access to the river, connectivity to the River Trail system and plenty of passive recreational opportunities. There will also be parking and changing facilities for those recreating on the Colorado Dam Surfpark.


Will the improvements affect the wetlands above the Colorado Dam?

The wetlands and riparian sections above and below the Colorado Dam should not be affected as water levels will remain the same.

How will this affect fishing?     Whitewater features promote water aeration, deep pools and eddies that provide fish with enhanced habitat.  The bypass/fish passage channel and whitewater channel will replace the current fish ladder.  In the long term whitewater features can increase the quality of habitat for the fish and fishing should be positively affected as a result.   

How much will the improvements cost?

The majority of the improvements to the Colorado Dam will be covered by the $29 Million Bond Measure that was passed in November 2012, but the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance has committed to raising $1.13M to contribute to the project. Bend Paddle Trail Alliance has already raised $882K and is continuing to raise a remaining $248,000 to complete the fundraising needed for the surfpark.

When will construction begin?

Construction has begun!


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Special thanks to our 2014 Pickin' & Paddlin' Sponsors:


Bank of the Cascades

Cascade Lakes Brewing Co.

Deschutes Brewery


Bend Radio Group

Bedell Guitars/Two Old Hippies




Rebound Physical Therapy

Eclipse Engineering


Edward Jones

Wright Design Studio

Wall Street Suites


Alaska Legacy Lodge LLC

Sun Country Tours


Shelter Studio

Hydro Flask

The Skjersaa Group at Duke Warner Realty

Humm Kombucha



Bowerman Guitars


Atlas Cider

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