Deschutes National Forest - Alternative Transportation Feasibility Study
With almost 1.6 million acres that extend approximately 100 miles along the east side of the Cascade Mountain crest, the Deschutes National Forest (DNF) in Oregon receives 2.78 million visitors annually. The DNF is the third most heavily visited forest unit in the USDA Forest Service Region 6, which encompasses the Pacific Northwest. However, the DNF has less than 200,000 people in the surrounding area. There are eight other national forests within Region 6 located next to larger populations with less use than the DNF. Due to the significant sunshine in the area, the DNF has identified their recreational niche as "FUN in the SUN!" DNF is the hub of incredible recreational opportunities in diverse settings within proximity to one another and the surrounding communities, facilitating four season day use recreation opportunities. Approximately half of the visitors come from local communities and 75% of the visitors come from within the State of Oregon. Additionally, over 75% of visitors are classified as day use, which suggests the potential for various alternative transportation solutions. The DNF is a premier destination. However, with growing visitation there is a desire to improve forest access and protect forest resources and enhance visitor experience at the same time.
The purpose of this project is to lay the groundwork for the implementation of the DNF Alternative Transportation Feasibility Study. In 2009, an Interagency Transportation Assistance Group (TAG), in which Volpe participated, performed a field investigation of transportation issues at DNF. Based on information from the TAG analysis and subsequent report, DNF applied for and received a Fiscal Year 2009 planning grant to the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks (Sarbanes or TRIP) program to develop a comprehensive transportation planning study. This project will perform a literature review and assess existing area planning studies, data, and other relevant information in three corridor area groups; refine the prioritization of corridors within the area groups; review the DNF stakeholder communications plan; and develop a draft transportation statement of work for the remainder of the study.
View of East Lake from Paulina Peak in the Dechutes National Forest.