Taking care of the places that take care of us is our top priority. Perhaps you’re passionate about nature playgrounds, or maybe you’re motivated by Nordic trails.
Whatever floats your boat, it’s time to make your voice heard. Beginning September 13, 2022, organizers of the Bend Sustainability Fund want your input on how to spend $1,000,000 in grant money earmarked for enhancing and protecting Bend’s outdoor resources. Weighing in not only gives you a say in how the money’s spent, but an opportunity to grant an extra $500 to one of the finalists. Here’s what you should know about the 2022 community ballot for the Bend Sustainability Fund.
What’s the Bend Sustainability Fund?
The Bend Sustainability Fund (BSF) is a granting program aimed at tending Bend’s precious recreational resources. Launched June 2021, the program earmarks transient room tax dollars (TRT) for shovel-ready projects that protect, steward, or create sustainable outdoor experiences in and around Bend.
The 2021 Bend Sustainability Fund grant cycle awarded $840,000 to eight projects over the next two years. Learn more about the projects we funded.
Is this a new thing?
Yep! Oregon law requires a portion of transient room tax (TRT) dollars to go back into tourism promotion and tourism-related facilities. That’s aside from the 65.4% hunk of TRT funds already funneled into the City’s general fund for things like police and fire (a projected total of $9,667,356 projected for fiscal year 2023, but I digress).
Let’s focus on the portion that legally goes toward tourism promo and facilities. In Bend, our tourism-related facilities aren’t just brick and mortar buildings, but the outdoor recreation we all love. Recognizing a chance to protect and enhance Bend’s wild places, Visit Bend worked with organizations ranging from the Forest Service to the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association to the City of Bend to Bend Park & Recreation District to the Bureau of Land Management to create the Bend Sustainability Fund. The BSF is proud to kick off its second year in 2022 with $1,000,000 to distribute between projects.
Who came up with the projects?
Community members and Bend lovers like you are behind these projects! From July 1 – July 30, 2022, the Bend Sustainability Fund accepted applications from groups and individuals with shovel-ready projects that protect, steward, or create sustainable recreational resources. Once the application period closed July 30, the BSF Advisory Council narrowed the proposals to a field of finalists that will each receive some level of funding. Now comes the fun part –– your chance to let us know which ones are most important to you.
How many projects are there?
There are nine finalists in total, and proposed projects range from trail signage improvements to bike parks to riverbend access restoration.
What if I want them all to get money?
Don’t worry, the finalists each get some form of funding. What we’re seeking is public sentiment about what’s most important to the folks actually using these resources. This is your chance to help set priorities for the future of Bend’s outdoor recreation!
What’s this about an extra $500?
To encourage community involvement, five voters will be drawn at random to choose one of the organizations on the ballot to receive an additional $500 grant. These five $500 bonuses are in addition to the $1,000,000 in grant money that will be divided among finalists.
Do I have to live in Bend to participate?
Nope! We recognize Bend belongs to everyone, and your opinion matters whether you live in Bend or only wish you did.
English isn’t my first language, but I still want to participate.
No prob! The community ballot is available in both English and Spanish.
Where can I vote?
When’s the deadline?
The ballot closes at 11:59pm, September 25th. After that, the BSF Advisory Council will assess the results and make recommendations. The Visit Bend Board of Directors will confirm final funding decisions on October 3, 2022.
What if I have a super-duper-awesome idea for a future project?
Start planning now for the 2023 granting cycle, and keep your eyes on the Bend Sustainability Fund page for updates. You can also email email@example.com with any questions or to request information.