Public comment period begins on proposed paved trail connecting Bend-Lava Lands

The Oregon Department of Transportation and Deschutes National Forest are inviting the public to provide feedback on plans for a paved multi-use trail from south of Bend to the Lava Lands Visitor Center.

The proposed 6-mile long trail will start south of Bend at the Baker Rd/Knott Road Interchange.

From there it will wind through a forest and old lava flow, terminating at the Lava Lands Visitor Center at Lava Butte.

Along the way, the multi-use trail provides connections to the High Desert Museum, Sun Lava trail system, and Sunriver.

The proposed path would be built using funds from the Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP), which is administered by the Federal Highway Administration.

The Forest Service’s environmental assessment can be accessed on the Deschutes National Forest project website at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=57665.

A copy of the environmental assessment is also available by contacting the Bend-Ft. Rock Ranger District of the Deschutes National Forest at 541-383-5300 or reaching out to the project manager at cristina.peterson@usda.gov.

For the next 30 days, public comments on the proposed project will be taken.

Comments may be submitted electronically to comments-pacificnorthwest-deschutes-bendftrock@usda.gov .

People are asked to put “Paved Path” in the subject line of their email. Comments must be submitted as part of the actual e-mail message, or as an attachment in Microsoft Word, rich text format (rtf), or portable document format (pdf) only. If using an electronic message, a scanned signature is one way to provide verification. E-mails submitted to e-mail addresses other than the one listed above, in other formats than those listed or containing viruses will be rejected.

Comments may also be submitted in writing by mail and sent to
Kevin Larkin, District Ranger, Bend-FortRock Ranger District
63095 Deschutes Market Road, Bend, OR 97701.

Hand-delivered comments are discouraged at this time.

Anyone wishing to obtain additional information on the project or to provide comments over the phone should contact Cristina Peterson at cristina.peterson@usda.gov  or 541-383-4028.

Due to federal regulations comments provided to ODOT are not a part of the Forest Service’s public comment process and anyone who wants their comments to be considered as part of the environmental assessment process must also submit their comments to the Forest Service in the manner described previously.

The trail is a major component of the Lava Lands regional trail system concept, and is expected to serve more than 80,000 visitors a year once it is built.

The Deschutes National Forest currently is preparing an Environmental Analysis (EA) of the proposal, which will also include collecting and reviewing public comments for the portion of the trail within the Forest Service Boundary.

The focus of the feasibility study is to look at trail alignments.

As part of the next phase of the project, ODOT will work with partners including Bend Parks and Recreation District and Deschutes County to look at potential parking facilities in the vicinity of the Baker/Knott Rd.

To help the public better understand this project, ODOT has prepared an online open house website where members of the public can review the feasibility study completed for the project and provide feedback on the alternatives examined.

The open house is located at: https://odotopenhouse.org/openhouse/us97multiusetrailproject.

The site will be open for review and feedback through April 30.

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