Recently, the Bend Park & Recreation District has been working on a plan to alter the spillway on the Deschutes River at the Colorado Dam in downtown Bend to enable kayakers and inner-tubers to ride downstream without having to maneuver around the dam. The Colorado Avenue Dam creates an impoundment that was once used to support lumber mill operations and also maintains surface water levels upstream in the Mill District area. The dam is located in an area of the river that is heavily used during the summer months by people on inflatable rafts and inner-tubes. The current configuration blocks downstream passage and requires all river users to exit the river and put-in downstream. The dam creates a pinning hazard exposing a high number of users to the potential of being swept into the dam.
GreenWorks, as part of a team including OTAK, Pacific Habitat Resources, and RiverRestoration.org, provided a design for safe passage over the existing Colorado Dam for many types of river users including inflatable crafts, and hardshell boats like kayaks and canoes. The design includes whitewater play features, a higher pedestrian bridge and increased habitat diversity along the river. By incorporating a fish passage and on-bank habitat restoration, improvements to McKay Park, and removal of the existing pedestrian bridge, the design will achieve improved safety for river users and environmental conditions of the river.