Visit Central Oregon awarded 12 recipients a total of $840,000 in grant money as part of the Central Oregon Future Fund, a new grant program to support local projects that will benefit both residents and visitors.
Visit Central Oregon selected the 12 recipients from 43 applications requesting more than $4 million in funding.
The recipients represent a wide range of projects — from a program to enhance outdoor recreation opportunities for people with disabilities to Tower Theatre sound improvements to a myriad of trail projects spread throughout Central Oregon. Each has at least one thing in common: every project awarded a Central Oregon Future Fund grant placed an emphasis on sustainable tourism in line with the Fund’s pillars of promoting accessible adventure, cultural tourism, and stewardship. The 43 applications included 13 access adventure projects, 22 cultural tourism projects, and eight stewardship projects.
“Each of these projects will provide a lasting benefit to the region and enhance the enjoyment of Central Oregon for those of us who live here, as well as those who visit,” Julia Theisen, CEO of Visit Central Oregon, said. “Our goal is to support programs that will help make Central Oregon a better place to live as well as a more attractive place to visit. And as each of these grant recipients prove, these interests do not necessarily have to compete with one another.”
The 2023 Central Oregon Future Fund grant winners are:
- Bend Parks and Recreation District, River Access Improvements Phase 3 ($100,000): Aimed at improving river access along a busy stretch of the Deschutes River, while also restoring habitat and ensuring sustainable water enjoyment for decades to come.
- Central Oregon Trail Alliance, Welcome to Central Oregon’s Trails ($60,000): Aimed at welcoming locals and visitors to Central Oregon trails, beyond the most popular near Bend, by improving signage and trip planning information.
- Deschutes Soil and Water Conservation District, Got Stars Central Oregon ($95,000): The Oregon Chapter of the International Dark-Sky Assoc., Deschutes Soil and Water Conservation District, and its eight Central Oregon partners, are collaborating on a community-wide initiative to showcase the importance and solutions related to dark skies and astro-tourism through outreach, education, and signage and lighting improvements.
- Discover Your Forest, Skull Hollow Trail Head ($77,375): Facility improvements to enhance a diverse mixed-use trail area and prevent further resource damage to the most visited trailhead in the Crooked River National Grassland.
- High Desert Museum, Changing Exhibits Initiative ($50,000): The Changing Exhibit Initiative brings new and exciting experiences to the museum, driving attendance, and supporting Central Oregon’s thriving arts and culture community.
- Maupin Area Chamber Endowment, Deschutes River Athletic Complex ($60,000): Enhancements to the Deschutes River Athletic Complex, upgrading its track and football field, performing arts stage and spectator facilities.
- Oregon Adaptive Sports, Moving Mountains ($67,475): Program will enhance opportunities for residents and visitors with disabilities and their families to access Central Oregon’s outdoor recreation opportunities.
- Oregon Equestrian Trails, Sheep Springs Horse Camp Steel Corral Upgrade ($66,083): Oregon Equestrian Trails will install steel corrals at Sheep Springs Horse Camp, providing safe and durable corrals critical for equine safety and visitor enjoyment.
- Sisters Trails Alliance, Whychus Overlook Accessibility Enhancement Project ($37,152): Modification of the existing masonry wall with two 10-foot viewing sections and refitting it with a cable-rail assembly to create a fully inclusive overlook at the Whychus Creek Overlook.
- Sunriver Owners Association, Sunriver Pathway Wayfinding Signs ($74,148): The project will add 25 new signs throughout Sunriver, providing enhanced wayfinding for residents and visitors.
- Tower Theatre, Sound Mitigation Project ($49,140): This project will fully complete comprehensive sound mitigation to improve, enhance, and clarify audio amplification in the historic Bend venue.
- Warm Springs Community Action Team, Warm Springs Commissary ($100,000): A collaborative project, this is aimed at creating a sustainable destination and business incubator supporting 40 aspiring or current small business owners in the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.
“The Central Oregon Future Fund is off to a great start and Visit Central Oregon will continue to support the region by reinvesting TRT dollars back into our communities and impacting them positively,” Theisen said. “Ultimately, Visit Central Oregon’s mission is to promote sustainable tourism and to ensure that the region remains a community we all enjoy.”
To learn more about the Central Oregon Future Fund and this year’s grant recipients, visit visitcentraloregon.com/Future-Fund.