An interactive nature play area made of natural elements — rock, wood, and sand — is under construction at Kit Carson Park, located near the Pacific Terrace neighborhood and along Crater Lake Parkway in Klamath Falls.
Plans are to open it to the public Sept. 1.
The 2-acre play area, which broke ground in May, includes a moving log bridge, a saucer-style “zipline,” a rock wall, a more than 5 1/2-feet tall climbing log made up of Sugar Pine salvaged from Northern California; an Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible sandbox, stairs, and a spider web-like structure made of rope.
Much of the structures are crafted from Juniper milled locally. All of the structures have been built to inspire play and natural movement for youth and adults.
“The idea was to get kids to actually move,” said Clif McMillan, of Alder Creek Landscaping, who took the Herald and News on a tour of the site last week.
Alder Creek Landscaping, a sub-contractor for general contractor Modoc Contracting, is providing much of the landscape work for the site.
As part of a contribution stemming from the medical center’s 50th anniversary in 2015, the play area is being constructed with $275,000 provided by Sky Lakes Medical Center and a $50,000 grant provided by Cascade Health Alliance, according to Lauren Jespersen, president of the Sky Lakes Medical Center Foundation.
The project was identified in 2015 by Sky Lakes Medical Center one of the ways the medical center could give back to the community in celebration of its 50th anniversary.
“The park is intended to be a donation to the community, and we’re able to use city property to construct the park,” Jespersen said on Monday.
The playground under construction sits on a piece of property that the city of Klamath Falls leased to Sky Lakes Medical Center for the duration of the project, said Sky Lakes officials.
The city will handle ongoing maintenance of the area moving forward.
The city of Klamath Falls Street Department is also constructing a ½-mile trail system to the north of the nature play area for walkers and joggers near the structure, with $75,000 in city funds as well as a $50,000 donation from Advantage Dental in memory of the late Tom Tucker, according to Jespersen.
The trail network will be named for Tucker, according to John Bellon, parks superintendent for the city of Klamath Falls.
The trail network will connect to and through the nature play area, according to Jespersen.
“It’s a gorgeous piece of property and a great place that has been highly underutilized for a long time,” McMillan said.
McMillan spoke of how the “spider web” feature, his personal favorite, will spread rope between Juniper posts, providing a place to sit, climb and play.
“Initially there were three volleyball courts here, two of them came out and we’re utilizing the sand for back-fill,” McMillan said.
Safety and accessibility are key elements to construction of the site.
“All of this will have fall protection in it, it will be engineered wood chips for all of this area,” McMillan said, noting there will be lawn space as well.
“All of this stuff should be adult-friendly, too. There’s no reason the adults can’t be in here partaking with the kids on a lot of this.”
The landscape will feature local rock, including basalt columns, lava rock, and flagstone, as well as trees and shrubs.
“The whole idea is to get everybody involved,” McMillan said. “It’d be nice to just get more people involved in being outdoors.”
McMillan, himself, is enjoying the creativity involved in building the structures and play area, and shared how the work involved has been more like play.
“The toys just got bigger,” McMillan said with a smile.