ASLA Oregon LANDbytes AUGUST 2013 Feature:

Bend’s Byway Visitor Center
By Robin Lee Gyorgyfalvy, FASLA

A long envisioned dream for a new Visitor Center at the entrance to the Deschutes National Forest is quickly becoming a reality. This new portal to public lands will be located on the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway west of Bend, Oregon, which is home to 80,000 people. The Byway is a magical pathway that flows through a volcanic landscape full of sparkling alpine lakes. Visitors can easily access many outdoor adventures such as sightseeing, biking, hiking, skiing, kayaking, birdwatching, and wildlife viewing. Bend’s new Byway Visitor Center is scheduled to open its doors and outdoor interpretive features in time for the summer season of 2014.

Currently, Central Oregon communities and the Deschutes National Forest have been very fortunate to receive funding from the Federal Highways Administration for several projects. This is primarily due to having a comprehensive master planning approach and strong community support as demonstrated by the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway’s Corridor Management and Interpretive Plan. The sustainability and credibility of this plan are due to its grassroots origins and tremendous efforts to continually involve the community through open houses, partnerships, and cultural tourism events.
Working closely with the Deschutes National Forest Scenic Byways Program is a Scenic Byway Community Group that provides innovative ideas for partnerships, marketing, funding, visibility, and education. Also, a great deal of credit must be given to the extraordinary on-the-ground expertise of the Bend/Fort Rock District Interdisciplinary Byway Planning Team. A unique and critical feature of the entire planning process has been to incorporate the Bend 2030 Community Vision and Action Plan with the Corridor Management and Interpretive Plan.

The Bend 2030 Community Vision and Action Plan is the result of a City of Bend planning process which began in 2006. One in seven citizens contributed opinions and ideas in order to create a road map and picture of how their community should look and feel in the year 2030. Several Bend 2030 Action Plan items incorporated into the Byway Plan include multi-modal connectivity, stewardship and conservation education through partnerships and dialogue-based collaborative processes, and cultural tourism events with community partners.

Recent accomplishments on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway that support the Community Vision and Action Plan items incorporated with the Corridor Management Plan goals and strategies are the following:

1. In August 2012, the Transportation Research Board held its Landscape and Environmental Design Committee’s Mid-Year Meeting “Multi-Modal Transportation and Community Connections” on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway and Deschutes National Forest with many transportation leaders throughout the country and Pacific Northwest coming together to collaborate on cutting edge efforts for multi-modal transportation.

2. Stewardship and conservation education are the focus of new outdoor interpretive panels along an accessible entry walkway to be installed soon at the new Visitor Center with learning through the visual arts, tactile sculpture, and creative writing. With an interpretive theme based on hydrology and “Following the Water,” the storylines are based on sub-themes on climate change, culture, geology, volcanoes, ethnobotany, wildlife, vegetation, fisheries, and history.

3. Cultural tourism events being planned this September 2013 by award-winning writers Kathy Bowman and Susan Whitney will be the fourth in a series of “Haiku Highway Writing Workshops” which began in 2010. This year will feature partnerships with the Forest Service’s Asian and Pacific Islander American Employee Association and the Haiku Society of America.

Scenic Byway Partners such as Central Oregon Visitors Association, Visit Bend, all the Central Oregon Chambers of Commerce, to name just a few, are actively engaged in supporting and marketing the Cascade Lakes and creating stewardship opportunities to protect the Byway’s intrinsic values for both residents and visitors. One of the most effective ways to accomplish this has been through the creation and widespread distribution of the colorful and enticing Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway Brochure. Featuring whimsical artwork by local artist Dennis McGregor and a special “Tour of Interpretive Sites,” this light-hearted brochure invites Byway travelers, especially families and children, to see and hear what nature has to offer, a scenic feast for the senses.

Local Bend firms involved in the design for the site and building are Eileen Obermiller, ASLA of Dappled Earth Landscape Architects, BBT Architects, and HWA Engineers.
Stay tuned for a ribbon-cutting event for Bend’s Byway Visitor Center coming soon in 2014!!!

For information, please contact Robin Gyorgyfalvy, Deschutes National Forest Scenic Byways Program Leader at rgyorgyfalvy@fs.fed.us.

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