The State of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is creating a historic new park in Eastern Oregon. Cottonwood Canyon State Park is located in Sherman and Gilliam counties along prime John Day River frontage. The John Day River is the longest free flowing river in the Pacific Northwest and a focal salmon restoration opportunity. The territory contained in the park is unlike any outdoor or cultural experience currently offered in Oregon’s parks.
The proposed Oregon Solutions project would facilitate the development of a Cottonwood Canyon State Park Education and Interpretive Center, a joint vision between the State of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) and the Lower John Day Conservation Collaborative (LJDCC). The envisioned education & interpretive center would offer museum-quality conservation, historical, and cultural programming, educational facilities and print materials at Cottonwood Canyon State Park.
Both entities describe the education and interpretive center as an opportunity to create a “gateway” to the John Day River and the four counties it occupies. From this “gateway,” students, tourists, residents, and technicians will learn about and conduct research in the high desert and the John Day Basin. Past and present interpretive displays will encourage further exploration of the diverse ecological and cultural opportunities through a 4-county road-map. A successful center is projected to spur robust economic development through tourism and by providing a platform for life-long conservation and cultural learning.