Enhancing our quality of life —

Enhancing our quality of life

Ray V. Rose, Special to Tri-City Herald, Apr. 19, 2005

By Ray V. Rose, Special to the Tri-City Herald<br /><br />April 19,  2005<br /><br />As a long-time resident of the Tri-Cities I have been encouraged by the recreational enhancement of our public lands, especially along the Columbia River, our greatest natural resource. I enjoy watching children and families take full advantage of our great open spaces and recreation areas.<br /><br />However, there are still many places that need our support. My favorite project, the abandoned railroad bed running fifteen miles along the north bank of the Snake River has tremendous potential as a highly scenic hiking/biking trail. It just needs the benefit of resurfacing, trestle guard railings and signage. Improvements along this trail would make it a safe and fun place for community members of all ages and abilities to exercise. Unfortunately, this trail is just one of the more than fifty projects around the state that will not be funded because of our state’s budget shortfalls.<br /><br /> Even though our state is facing financial challenges, we must preserve and protect our open spaces and recreation areas. A little known but effective program, the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) helps do just that. This is a state grant program that helps local communities create new parks, develop trails, and protect wildlife habitat.<br /><br />A non-profit organization called the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition (started by former Governors Dan Evans and Mike Lowry) is the primary advocacy group for the funding of the WWRP grant program. This is a highly diverse group of citizen activists representing business, professional, recreation, labor, fishing, hunting and conservation interests. The Coalition is an effective nucleus, but it still needs our citizen’s support in persuading our legislators and Governor on the importance of our local programs.<br /><br />To date the WWRP grant program has provided over $4 million in our Tri-City area for a wide array of projects. If the legislature continues to support WWRP, the Snake River trail project may be realized in the future. Even though this project will not likely be funded this year, we have the opportunity to make upgrades to Hansen Park in Kennewick. If the WWRP grant program is funded at the $60 million level recommended by the Coalition, we will be able to create a playground, a trail and picnic areas. Our community would surely benefit from an enhanced park—especially when our open spaces are diminishing.<br /><br />In the Tri-City area these state grants have already added great quality to our lives. They are truly solid investments especially in the face of our local population explosion. As a retired surgeon, I especially understand the many benefits of physical fitness to our community. If you too agree that the WWRP Grant Program is a worthy endeavor, and would like to see projects like the Snake River trail become a reality, please contact Governor Gregoire and your local state legislators to thank them for the support they have given in the past to funding the WWRP grants. In addition, encourage them to fully support this year’s WWRP grant program.<br /> <br /><br />Ray V. Rose, M.D. (retired) and member of The Pasco Planning Commission

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