House budget proposes $820,000 in funding for Nisqually Valley State Park - Acquisitions
The House of Representatives announced Tuesday at its hearing for the state capital construction budget that the Nisqually Valley area is set to receive more than $820,172 in funding for Nisqually Valley State Park - Acquisitions. The project is part of a proposed $50 million appropriation to the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP), which funds high-priority wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation projects across the state.
The $820,172 Nisqually Valley State Park - Acquisitions grant will be used to purchase two properties immediately outside of Nisqually State Park that are slated for development.
Projects funded by the WWRP — a highly respected grant program with bipartisan support that had been slated for near elimination in Gov. Gregoire's proposed budget — are determined using scientifically based, objective criteria. However, the Nisqually Valley State Park - Acquisitions grant could be put at risk if the Senate cuts funding for the program or alters the selection criteria for which projects receive funding.
“We are thrilled to see that the House of Representatives understands the critical role that preservation projects like [this one] play in local communities across the state,” said Joanna Grist, executive director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, which advocates for the program. “WWRP projects help maintain critical habitat for wildlife, protect our waterways and ensure that outdoor recreation can continue to be major source of income in rural communities across the state.”
Statewide, renewing WWRP funding is an essential investment in our long-term prosperity because of the billions of retail dollars and millions of tax dollars a year that flow to the state and local economies through tourism and outdoor recreation. Outdoor recreation generates $8.5 billion in revenues annually to Washington's economy and supports 115,000 jobs.
About the WWRC
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition (WWRC) is a nonprofit citizens group founded in a historic bipartisan effort by former Governors Dan Evans and Mike Lowry. Members consist of a diverse group of over 250 organizations representing conservation, business, recreation, hunting, fishing, farming, and community interests.
What They Do
The coalition founded the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) grant program in 1989 to address the need to preserve more land for outdoor recreation and wildlife habitat. A state agency, the Recreation and Conservation Office or RCO, reviews, ranks, and distributes the grants through a competitive process that guarantees that only the best new park, habitat and farm projects are funded. The coalition lobbies the Governor and the Legislature, which sets the funding level and approves the final list of projects.
What is the WWRP?
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (RCW 79A.15) is a state grant program funded from the capital construction budget that provides funding to protect habitat, preserve working farms and creates new local and state parks. Independent experts rank the applications based on criteria such as the benefits to the public, level of threat to the property, or presence of threatened or endangered species.