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DogPAC pushes for more off-leash river access

Bend Parks & Rec (BPRD) is working on a River Restoration and Access Plan to protect riparian habitats in the 8 miles of city parks along the Deschutes. BPRD staff will present their recommendation to the BPRD board on Jan. 19.

DogPAC has been working with the district to identify sites for off-leash access, where dogs can legally swim or wade in the river. They developed criteria, visited and evaluated all of the parks, and identified and ranked a dozen potential sites in eight parks. “BPRD staff considered our recommendations, but after their own evaluation, recommended a single site in Riverbend Park to replace the existing single site that is located on private property and will soon be developed,” states the DogPAC website.

DogPAC’s survey and BPRD’s own survey showed that off-leash river access is high priority among Bend residents. Of the 430 people who took the DogPAC survey last summer, 84% responded that they let their dog swim or wade in the river, and that they want to continue to do that. Limiting off-leash access to a single 30-40’ site in 8 miles of riverside park property, while providing many access points for boaters, floaters, fishermen, and other recreationists, amounts to treating dog owners as second class citizens, states the DogPAC.

Up until now, the great majority of off-leash use has not been at the single legal site in Riverbend Park, but at many informal sites along the river – sites that people have used for decades. BPRD’s recommendation of a single off-leash access site is tantamount to encouraging continued non-compliance with the city leash law, according to DogPAC.

DogPAC is requesting the public to contact the BPRD board prior to the meeting to voice concerns. The email is