BEND, OR – OPRD Director Lisa Sumption reprimanded BPRD Director Don Horton, following accusations of unethical conduct.
The current Oregon Administrative rules prohibit any construction on the Deschutes River. In recent years, BPRD has petitioned the OPRD Commission to amend the rule to allow a pedestrian crossing. In response, OPRD reviewed waterway rules, bringing experts in recreation, land management, and fish and wildlife, together with members of the community adjacent to the scenic waterway. Steps in the public process included the convening of an advisory group, open house public meetings, and an online survey.
In April 2017, following correspondence with state representatives and members of the community, staff members of Bend Parks and Recreation Department ascertained the rules would not be reopened. In a conversation with Associate Director Chris Havel, Don Horton, after assuming they would be reopened questioned Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and suggested that he had been deceived.
Lisa Sumption responded strongly to Mr. Horton, stating internally, “this is the second time that you have called into question our staff’s integrity and honesty.” She continued to highlight the community’s concerns and increasing opposition to the bridge, “after serious consideration, and hearing from the community that there were serious concerns about weakening scenic waterway protections.”
Additionally, Ms. Sumption underlined the department's position and its responsibility for overseeing many different regulations. “OPRD's portfolio is much larger than just the recreation policy area. We are also charged with the legislative authority to oversee and regulate the State Scenic Waterway program, which many times puts us in a regulatory role and a responsibility to protect the entire scenic waterway program, not just the recreational benefits.” she continued “OPRD has no plans at this time to try and amend the rules, and I will not make another decision on this question until after digesting the report.”