BEND, Ore. - The Old Mill District and developer Bill Smith of William Smith Properties were recognized earlier this month with a special conservation award from the East Cascades Audubon Society.
Since its inception many years ago, plans for the Old Mill District included important riparian restoration and environmental sustainability efforts for local plants and wildlife.
"Sheryl Pierce, President of the East Cascades Audubon Society, said, "This is the first time ECAS has honored a Central Oregon business for its conservation efforts. Bill Smith and the Old Mill District were a natural first choice, one we hope will serve as a model for other businesses. Bill has had a significant impact in our local community, especially when it comes to the land bordering the Deschutes River in the Old Mill District. He took the lead on restoring important wetland habitat used by native species including birds. We presented Bill with this award to thank him for supporting the East Cascades Audubon Society and sharing our interests."
Smith, who has shown an ongoing interest in birding as a recreational and educational pursuit, first focused on restoring the riverbank to create areas for native species to thrive. In addition, the Old Mill District has since partnered with ECAS to create a birding list for this vital habitat area and migratory corridor, secured binoculars available for public use and coordinated bird walks along the Old Mill District property with ECAS volunteers.
The riparian restoration that occurred before what is today's Old Mill District even began development, has subsequently allowed public access to the river and areas that had been off-limits for almost 80 years. Trails now line the river where seasonal birding tours are held, and vital habitat has been preserved along this migratory corridor.
In addition to the award for Smith and the Old Mill District, Jay Bowerman was recognized for his conservation efforts, which included research on the Oregon Spotted Frog, and Virginia Rails, who have habitats on the Old Mill District property.