Marci Stokke to help find funds for parks, wildlife —

Marci Stokke to help find funds for parks, wildlife

By Christopher Huber
Sammamish Review

As a girl growing up in Utah and Oregon, Marci Stokke spent a lot of time water skiing, camping, boating and doing other outdoor activities.

“We were always outdoors,” she said.

After moving to Washington and marrying her husband 35 years ago, she learned to hunt, and eventually got involved in land conservation efforts with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

She recently advanced again in her aim to preserve and conserve land for fellow Washingtonians to enjoy.

A longtime Sammamish resident, Stokke joined the board of directors for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition Nov. 15. She was among six new members unanimously approved by the coalition’s other 53 members.

“I’m excited to be able to provide some insight as an ordinary person who loves the outdoors,” Stokke said.

The coalition is a nonprofit citizens’ group formed through a bipartisan effort by former Governors Dan Evans and Mike Lowry in 1989. Its member organizations, including the Washington Trails Association, Horizon Airlines and other businesses, sportsman clubs and conservation agencies, work to secure funding through a state grant program. The grants fund habitat preservation, state and local park development and other land-conservation efforts from the state’s capital construction budget.

“It seems like there’s a lot of local support in our community,” she said.

As a board member, Stokke will be working with representatives of the more than 250 partnering agencies to essentially convince state legislators which local parks and farm-preservation projects and land-protection initiatives — among other campaigns — deserve funding for the up coming budget years.

While she will attend three official board meetings throughout the year, Stokke will also spend some time educating the public and lawmakers on the value of certain projects, said Tom Bugert, the coalition’s outreach director. She may also give people tours of specific lands the coalition seeks to get funding to protect, as well as provide insights into the value a recreation area could have on local businesses. Because of her experience in and connections with the sportsman and hunting communities, she will work mostly on habitat conservation projects, Bugert said.

“She is in a very unique place to tell that story,” he said.

Stokke believes in the coalition’s role in helping the state set priorities in the land-conservation arena. Without the consolidated and focused effort, many of the projects might not get done.

“It’s a pretty scientific process,” Stokke said. “It’s a good program and is something that was…through the process last year, almost lost.”

For the 2011-2012 budget cycle, the Wildlife and Recreation Coalition helped secure funding for local projects like the East Lake Sammamish Trail development ($500,000), the Duthie Hill Park trailhead development ($317,477) and the Tiger Mountain State Forest trail bridges ($247,870), according to the organization’s website.

Stokke’s goal as an advocate for hunters and outdoor enthusiasts alike has always been to keep land easily accessible, she said. Having spent much of her childhood in the great outdoors, Stokke wants to help ensure future generations will be able to use and appreciate the abundant wilderness and open lands available in Washington.

For the past 10 years, she’s helped lead the 23 state chapters of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. She was responsible for creating the organization’s annual newsletter for its 15,000 members, as well as working to protect lands for hunting and recreation.

“My focus has always been to keep the land open to the public,” Stokke said.

As a board member, Stokke will be able to provide a ground-level view to legislators and decision-makers and be able to speak as someone who is regularly out in the wilderness.

“We come from a different perspective,” she said. “I think it’s very important. Everyone has something different to offer the group.”

Read the complete story at Sammamish Review
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