Inslee budget proposal falls short of Wildlife-Recreation Coalition's hopes
Editor’s note: Governor Inslee’s budget for the coming biennium, announced yesterday, does provide funding fish and wildlife work being done in the Central Cascades, renovating the Edmonds Fishing Pier, as well as provide access to the Sultan River, which sees large numbers of pink salmon, but it leaves out ADA-accessible docks at Battleground Lake and access improvements on the Samish River, where they’re badly needed.
Here’s more from a press release put out by the Washington Wildlife & Recreation Coalition
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition (WWRC), which brings together 280 businesses and nonprofits, urges the legislature to fund the Washington Wildlife & Recreation Program (WWRP) at $97 million. Governor Inslee today announced funding for WWRP at $70 million. While his proposal moves in the right direction from final funding of $65 million in last biennium, the need is much greater. WWRP is the state’s premier grant program for outdoor recreation and conservation projects. Since its creation in 1990, the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program has secured over $1.1 billion in public and private support for projects in every corner of the state.
“The WWRP is a valuable tool for communities across the state that rely on the outdoors for their quality of life and economic vitality,” said Joanna Grist, executive director of the WWRC. “It’s absolutely imperative that legislators in both houses and from both parties work together to maximize funding to safeguard our natural heritage and the 227,000 Washington jobs that depend on outdoor recreation. There is never a more cost effective time than now to protect our outdoors.”
According to research from the Outdoor Industry Association, Washington’s outdoor recreation supports 227,000 jobs and generates $22.5 billion in economic activity annually, as well as acting as a significant quality of life attractor for top employers.
At $70 million, 80 projects would be funded across the state. The WWRP, funded by the capital construction budget, is separate from the operating budget, which funds things like law enforcement and teachers’ salaries.
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition led an effort supported by over 500 individuals and organizations across the state calling for $97 million. 122 projects will not be funded at the reduced level. The legislative session will begin in January and a budget is expected to be passed by early summer.
Projects that would receive funding under the Governor’s budget include:
- Preservation of 7 family farms,
- 16 neighborhood parks, including Prairie View Park in Spokane, a skate park in Darrington, a playground in Bellevue with amenities for children of all abilities and others,
- The Twisp Community Trail in the Methow Valley,
- and increased protection for Dabob Bay, among other projects.