Lava Lands Visitor Center to close for roof replacement

Rough, snowy winter made repair work crucial

Lava Lands Visitor Center to close...

BEND, Ore. - The Lava Lands Visitor Center is closing its doors on Sept. 11 to make some major roof repairs.

The project comes after last year's impressive snowfall, and before the next one.

The effects of last year's snowfall are still lingering, and repairs must continue before next winter settles in, Deschutes National Forest Public Affairs Officer Jean Nelson-Dean said Friday.

"We've had problems for a long time," she said. "I mean, obviously, that (winter) was bad, but it's been a problem for a while, and we've just received the funding so we can do this work and put out a contract and get it done."

The project is costing the U.S. Forest Service about $240,000. Contractors will rebuild the entire roof, and add a pitched roof on top of the flat roof.

The Lava Lands Visitor Center will be closed from mid-September until May.

It's a bit of a blow, since 70,000 visitors usually pass through during that five-month period.

Tom Domann is from West Linn but spends lots of time in Sunriver. 

"We've been coming here for over 30 years, since our kids were little," Domann said. "They are now in their mid to upper 20s, and they, as well as my wife and I, just love coming here. It's a great spot.". 

Elizabeth Donley was making her first visit to the center on Friday. 

"I read about it. It sounded pretty interesting," she sai. "I have two young kids, and I thought it would be interesting for them to see this place."

Brent Bohannon is from Salem, and this was also his first visit to the center.

"I really enjoyed it," he said. "It was very informative -- how the different rocks were formed, how the volcanoes erupted and how this crater came to be."

But Nelson-Dean said the work has to happen some time.

"We did plan to have it at our slowest part of the season," she said. "Certainly we will see some losses, but it's really important that we protect those investments in our exhibit and in the visitor center for the long term."

Yurts will be set up temporarily in place of the visitor center, and the welcome station will remain open.

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