What is the purpose of the Coalition?
The Coalition is a nonprofit citizens group that leverages public funds for new state and local parks, wildlife habitat and farmland preservation. In 1989, the Coalition persuaded the state legislature to create the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP). Since then, the Coalition has served as the program's watchdog and worked to secure legislative funding for WWRP projects. Because of the work of the Coalition, children can play in parks and ball fields, hunters, anglers and hikers have access to our great outdoors, and more habitat for salmon and wildlife is safe for future generations.
What has the Coalition accomplished?
The Coalition has successfully advocated for nearly $1 billion in state funds for WWRP projects. This money leveraged an additional $440 million in local matching funds. The WWRP has funded more than 1,000 projects, encompassing over 350,000 acres of parks, ball fields and wildlife habitat across the state. This means more soccer fields for our children, more state parks for our families, better habitat for fish and wildlife and an improved quality of life for our state's citizens.
Why is the Coalition effective?
The Coalition is a diverse group of more than 280 businesses and community organizations. Individuals representing a variety of interests including hunters, anglers, hikers, environmentalists, timber companies and realtors, as well as elected officials make up one of the most committed and effective boards of directors in the state.
The Coalition continues to enjoy unparalleled success and bipartisan support. Former Governors Dan Evans and Mike Lowry co-chair the Board of Directors, which includes legislators from both sides of the aisle. Through the Coalition, businesses, like Boeing and REI, work hand in hand with nonprofit groups such as The Nature Conservancy and the Federation of Fly Fishers to protect wildlife habitat and provide outdoor recreation opportunities.
How is the Coalition funded?
The Coalition relies on charitable contributions from individuals, organizations, and corporations from across Washington in order to operate. The Coalition does NOT receive any of the money it advocates for in Olympia or D.C. – every penny of it goes towards funding projects in your community.
Why is the WWRP good for the local economy?
Parks, trails, water access and wildlife habitat promote recreation and tourism, generating millions of dollars and well-paying jobs across Washington. According to a study commissioned by the Trust for Public Land, campers, boaters, hunters and others visiting state parks and wildlife lands generate $8.5 billion annually in retail sales and services, accounting for 3.5% of gross state product, and $650 million in annual sales tax revenue.
Investments by the WWRP also bring federal dollars to the state by allowing local agencies, like the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, to apply for matching funds through national grants. Over the last ten years, WWRP has brought in over $100 million in matching funds from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department alone.
In addition, people want to live and work in scenic areas and our communities attract companies that value the region’s natural amenities. By protecting our natural resources, the WWRP helps to ensure that our state’s businesses continue to attract and keep quality employees. That’s why major employers like Boeing, Group Health, Puget Sound Energy, John L. Scott Real Estate, REI and Weyerhaeuser support the Coalition. The Coalition is also supported by the Washington Realtors, Washington Forest Protection Association and Washington State Grange.
How does the WWRP create jobs?
41 percent of WWRP projects are development projects that create local jobs. The rest are land acquisitions and easements that put money in the pockets of local landowners. Landowners reinvest these dollars in their communities and businesses. These investments fuel the economy and generate taxes that return to state and local coffers.
Tourism is a vital part of Washington State's economy. Tourism generated by outdoor recreation supports 115,000 jobs across Washington State. By protecting wildlife areas and expanding outdoor recreation opportunities, the WWRP attracts visitors to our state and leads to a strong economy and more jobs.
Why is the WWRP good for kids?
Outdoor recreation is the way that we experience nature. When we hike, hunt, swim and fish we connect with nature in ways unavailable to us day to day. As our state’s population has increased, so has demand for ball parks, trails, water-access sites and other recreation resources. For the many children who live in suburban and urban areas, the opportunities to explore and experience nature are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Our wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation areas, funded by the WWRP grant program, expose kids to the many wonders and mysteries of the world, and provide opportunities for discovery and learning that will last a lifetime.
How does the WWRP affect climate change?
As our climate changes, the WWRP grant program helps plants and animals adapt by connecting habitat areas so they can migrate. Land conservation also reduces flooding and storm water runoff, which protects stream flows for fish and clean drinking water. As our state's largest funding source for local parks and trails, the WWRP also helps get people out of their cars.
How does the WWRP help keep our water clean?
Land conservation reduces surface run-off and helps aquifers recharge, making WWRP funding a key component of protecting the long term health of Puget Sound, the Columbia basin and even our drinking water. Over half of the projects funded in 2011 will help to protect or restore Puget Sound. The WWRP's new Riparian category provides up to $19 million every two years to acquire and restore vital fresh and saltwater shorelines. Both salmon and non-salmon habitat are eligible and qualified land trusts and all state and local agencies can apply, including lead entities, tribes, and park, port, school and conservation districts.
How does the WWRP help protect wildlife?
Hunters, anglers and wildlife enthusiasts support WWRP because it is Washington's most successful conservation and outdoor recreation program. The WWRP grant program is the primary source of state funding for protecting habitat that fish and wildlife depend on. It also enhances the public's access to Washington's great outdoors by creating and expanding state and local parks, building fishing docks and funding public access to shorelines.
Why does the WWRP Grant Program need more funding?
The Coalition has secured nearly $1 billion for state and local agencies for new parks, trails, water-access sites, critical wildlife habitat, natural areas and farms. However, despite the program’s great success, increased population growth and demand for outdoor recreation areas mean that the WWRP grant program will need more funding if it is expected to meet the needs of Washington’s citizens.
In 2011 alone there were nearly $160 million in requests for 279 proposed projects, but only 56 WWRP grants received funding from the legislature. The Coalition works to ensure that the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, the largest funding program for new parks and wildlife habitat in Washington State, is fully funded by the state legislature.
What if I am seeking funding to conserve a specific property?
The Coalition does not raise funds for specific projects. Only state and local agencies are eligible to apply for WWRP grants, so you will need to identify one that is interested in the property. The Trust for Public Land and local land trusts regularly collaborate with state and local governments to apply for grants. Your local agency needs to contact the Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers the WWRP grant program.
How are potential projects evaluated and funded?
A state agency, theRecreation and Conservation Office or RCO, takes each application through an award-winning competitive process that guarantees only the best projects are funded. Applications are evaluated and ranked by a team of experts from state and local agencies and the public according to the benefits of the project, the level of threat to the property and the amount of community support. The legislature then reviews the ranked list of projects and passes a budget. Because the legislation that implements Capital Budget requires a 60% vote, the WWRP requires bipartisan support.
How does the WWRP support local control?
Communities needing new boat docks, parks, ball fields or habitat protection can apply to the WWRP for matching grants, leveraging state funds for local concerns. State agencies apply for WWRP funds too, but the RCO's competitive process requires that county commissioners be notified. If a project is not welcome, then legislators from that district can remove it from the project list by signing a request.
What are we funding in your community?
Check out our homepage to see lists of funded and proposed projects by city, county or district.
Photo credits (top to bottom): NOCA, Darcy Kiefel, Daniel Ewert, Brewbrooks