Bend: Parks & Rec – A cougar strolls into a neighborhood park…

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May 052015
Cougar ODFW photo

ODFW photo

Not quite a month ago a young male cougar was literally munching his way through the neighborhood around Highland Park in Bend.  Several family pets went missing – the remains of one pet was discovered with signs that it was likely prey to a cougar.

Bend Police put up signs and alerted the neighbors to stay inside, keep pets close by and report any sign of a very large cat.

A month earlier Bend Police were alerted that a more mature male cougar was hiding just off the main trail leading up to the top of Pilot Butte.  From his perch the animal had a bird’s eye view of people walking directly under him.  At that time Bend Police tried to contact ODFW to get guidance on what to do about the animal.  ODFW didn’t have anyone to send.  So Bend Police did what police usually do – they came down on the side of public safety.  The cougar was shot dead where it was hiding.

Late last year in southeast Bend, a cougar hold-up in a tree in a residential neighborhood was anesthetized and then put-down – ODFW saying the animal had lost its fear of people and would just come back into town if it was released into the wild.

Somewhat predictably there was a large public hue and cry about the way authorities were handling cougar intrusions into town. Top city officials began to realize that they were not the only agency wrestling with what to do with big cat urban invaders which, it was feared, were literally looking for a “domain” – a hunting area, inside Bend’s city limits.

Enter Bend Parks & Recreation.

Bend Parks and Recreation is building parks and designated nature areas not only in town but on some of the outskirts that are encroaching on cougar habitat – Riley Ranch Nature Preserve, for one.  Well aware of what’s happening, Bend Parks and Recreation Commissioners Tuesday night said the community, as a whole, needs predictable procedures on what to do in the event of  a cougar sighting or evidence that a cougar is operating in an area – perhaps within a well used park.

Commissioners said Bend City Hall and the Parks and Recreation District need their staffs to get together, under the guidance and advice of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to formulate proper procedures to deal with cougars.  Cougars are already frequent visitors to the Shevlin Park trail system as it runs up and down Tumalo Creek.  It was observed by Parks and Recreation staff that there have been five cougar sightings inside public parks over the past ten years.  Staff said most cougars are simply moving from one area to another – generally just passing through urban neighborhoods.

Commissioner Nathan Hovekamp, who is well educated in the natural environment and the critters that live in it, observed that there has never been a cougar attack on any human being in the history of Oregon.  He said ODFW records show that their criteria for lawfully killing a cougar have seldom, if ever been met – that those kills have been made mostly out of fear rather than reason as witnessed in the cougar slaying by police on Pilot Butte in March.

Hovekamp agreed with ODFW recommendations when dealing with a cougar:

* Leave them alone
* Post warning signs if a cougar is spotted in the area
* Close a park if necessary
* If spotted, make loud noises
* If justified use rubber, not steel bullets. Use other non-lethal means to get them to move on.

The commission agreed that proper procedures need to be made clear to any and all agencies that find themselves being asked to do something about an “in town” cougar.

The commission asked Parks and Recreation staff to launch meetings with Bend city staff, along with ODFW and USFWS as advisors, with an aim to establish a protocol on what to do about the big cats – 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Parks and Recreation Chairman Dan Fishkin said preserving a safe environment for families when using parks and recreation areas is paramount in his mind. But Nathan Hovekamp immediately offered a reminder that the Bend Parks and Recreation District is committed to being trustees and protectors of Bend’s natural environment and of the the wildlife that depend on those lands for their very survival. Fishkin quickly agreed but added that it’s a balance of the two values – visitor safety vs. wildlife protection – and as far as he’s concerned family safety is paramount. Hovekamp quickly retorted that cougars are not the threat to humans that too many people believe they are.

In the end, staff was instructed to begin meeting with Bend city officials to arrange strategy sessions on how best to deal with Bend’s cougar problem.

Once the new procedures are in place, perhaps cougar kills can become less frequent than what has become a worrisome development in and around Bend.

Baker Road and Brookswood projects update:

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May 052015

deschutes county

From Deschutes County Offices


Baker Road closed at BNSF railroad crossing May 11th – 13th

The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF) will replace the railroad crossing on Baker Road May 11th through the 13th. Baker Road will be closed for three days to facilitate the work and to repave the crossing. All traffic in and out of Deschutes River Woods, west of the Baker Road railroad crossing, will be detoured onto Brookswood Boulevard for the duration of the project. Baker Road will be closed at Cinder Butte Road on the west side and Baker Court on the east side of Baker Road.

Temporary 3-way stop at Baker Road and Brookswood Blvd. to be installed by mid-May

A temporary three-way stop will be installed at the intersection of Baker Road and Brookswood Boulevard by mid-May. This change is needed for the detour route while Brookswood Boulevard is closed between Lodgepole Drive and Pinebrook Boulevard.

Brookswood Blvd. closed beginning May 14th

Brookswood Boulevard will be closed May 14th through September 4th in order to construct a roundabout that will connect to the new Murphy Road extension. During the closure, traffic will be diverted to Baker Road and U.S. 97.

Bend: Vehicle into Bend Walmart

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May 052015

8:55am- Vehicle drove into the side of the Walmart building on Pinebrook. Reports from the scene indicate minimal damage to the building. Driver may need medical attention. Medics enroute.

Hiker catches alleged vandals in the act…

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May 052015
Prineville hiker said he saw California tourists vandalizing the Tumalo Falls overlook railing

Prineville hiker said he saw California tourists vandalizing the Tumalo Falls overlook railing
Courtesy photo via The Oregonian

A Prineville resident on a pleasure walk up to the Tumalo Falls overlook Saturday said he discovered some tourists carving their names into the overlook railing.

The Oregonian reports there was some back and forth between the hiker and the vandal suspects but it didn’t stop them from leaving a “memento” of having been there.

The picture that the hiker’s companion took of the suspects’ defiance has gone viral on Facebook. Here’s the story in the Oregonian. Click here.

Tuesday is BURN DAY near Sun River

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May 042015
Control Burn  Courtesy photo

Control Burn
Courtesy photo

Fuels specialists are planning a highly visible burn near Sunriver Tuesday. Ignitions are expected to be finished by the end of the day.

On May 5, fuels specialists will be burning 3 units near Sunriver. The first is a 61 acre section adjacent to and east of Sunriver along County Road 40. The next one totals 40 acres and will take place 1 mile northwest of Sugar Pine Butte along Forest Road 9720. If weather conditions remain favorable, fuels specialists will attempt the final, 12 acre burn ½ mile southeast of the High Desert Museum.

These burns are located within the Deschutes Skyline Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration area which receives funding towards accelerated forest restoration and is part of an Oregon State University study evaluating short and long term effects of four silviculture treatments on stand structural development. The objective for these burns is to reduce fuels and restore forest health in areas that were historically maintained by frequent low intensity fire.

No road closures are anticipated with any of the projects although drivers can expect road flaggers on Road 40 into Sunriver during periods of dense smoke that may limit visibility. If smoke drifts on to local roads, motorists should slow down, turn on headlights, and proceed with care.

Fuels specialists will follow policies outlined in the Oregon Department of Forestry smoke management plan, which governs prescribed fires, and attempts to minimize impacts to visibility and public health. Once ignited, units are monitored and patrolled until they are declared out.

For more information, visit the Deschutes National Forest website at and follow us on Twitter @CentralORFire.

Redmond: Reported house fire 1220 SW 28th, off Metolius

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May 042015

5pm- Confusing reports of a reported house fire at 1220 SW 28th in Redmond. Some reports say it’s a small grass fire – others that the house itself is on fire. Fire units racing to the scene.

5:07pm- Fire’s out. Extinguished with a garden hose.

Another rescue at Smith Rock

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May 042015

search and rescue deschutes

On 05/03/2015, at about 1024 hours, Deschutes County 911 received a cell phone call from a citizen who reported a female hiker had slipped on loose rock and injured herself while hiking on the Misery Ridge Trail in Smith Rock State Park. Female hiker, Cyndy Cook, 71, was on her way down the steep section of Misery Ridge trail on the west side of Smith Rock just above Monkey Face at the time of the injury and was unable to continue hiking.

There were 7 Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue (SAR) members currently at Smith Rock who had just finished a pack test of a distance of 4 miles with 2,000 feet of elevation gain each carrying 25% of their body weight with a maximum of 40 pounds. These 7 SAR volunteers, assisted by a Smith Rock Park Ranger, became the hasty team deployed to locate the patient. It meant hiking up and over the Misery Ridge trail once again. 6 more SAR members responded from the Special Services building in Bend to assist.

Redmond Fire Department Paramedics responded to the west side of Smith Rock accessing the opposite side of the Crooked River by the use of a large raft, then ferried the second group of SAR members upon their arrival.

Cook was evaluated by Redmond Paramedics, packaged in the litter, and then brought down the steep trail on a wheeled litter. On the steeper sections of the trail, the SAR members who did not have hands on the litter, were used as a walking belay with each of them having a hand on a line that was attached to the end of the wheeled litter to serve as a breaking system if needed.

Cook and all other personnel were ferried back across the river at about 1330 hours.

Cook was transported by Ambulance to St. Charles Medical Center in Redmond with a minor non-life threatening injury.

Redmond Citizens: Redmond City Hall wants your opinion!

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May 032015
Downtown Redmond Courtesy photo

Downtown Redmond
Courtesy photo


The City of Redmond is hosting a public workshop to develop a vision and plan for Mid-Town Redmond that will help transform an underused district into a thriving neighborhood that reflects Redmond’s history and hopes for the future. The Mid-Town is between NW 4th and 7th Streets from NW Kingwood Avenue south to W Antler Avenue. This is the second public workshop for this project.

The next one coming up is set for Thursday, May 7, 5:30 -7:30 pm, Redmond City Hall, 716 SW Evergreen Avenue

City staff, a Citizen Advisory Committee and a team of consultants will help facilitate the meeting and interpret community priorities into designs and action items. Snacks and refreshments will be provided.

The City is encouraging all property and business owners, tenants, entrepreneurs and residents to attend in order to provide guidance on the transformation and vision for the new Mid-Town Area.

This is the third area-wide planning effort that the City of Redmond has conducted for the city center. In 2007 the City hosted a planning effort for the downtown that resulted in Centennial Park, and the pedestrian environment for downtown. In 2011, the City then turned its attention to the northern part of the City Center and drafted a development strategy for the Professional Business Medical District anchored by St. Charles hospital.

Redmond Community Development Director Heather Richards said “This is a great opportunity for all of us to come together and talk about all of the opportunities and possibilities for the Mid-Town Area of Redmond, to put together the final pieces of the puzzle for Redmond’s city center. I am excited about this effort – great ideas come when many minds get together.”