State Senate endorses funding —

State Senate endorses funding

Staff Writer; April 15, 2007 © Spokesman Review

April 15, 2007

The Washington Senate recently proposed a state budget that would increase funding for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program from $50 million to $100 million.

The WWRP is a state grant program that distributes funds to local and state agencies for protection of wildlife habitat, creation of outdoor recreation areas such as parks and ball fields and preserving farms.

In 18 years, the WWRP has granted more than $450 million and leveraged an additional $315 million to fund nearly 800 projects on 250,000 acres of outdoor recreation and wildlife habitat in cities and rural areas across the state.

WWRP funding has helped numerous Spokane-area projects, such as adding matching money to the Conservation Futures Program and boosting development of Plantes Ferry Park.

Pending habitat and outdoor recreation proposals for WWRP funding include $1.4 million to buy land on Antoine Peak, $530,000 for a Spokane River whitewater park, $306,000 to buy parkland in Greenacres, $250,000 for a fishing dock at Newman Lake, and $250,000 for a birding trail at Reardan's Audubon Lake.

If state lawmakers approve new funding at the $100 million level, the WWRP would fund 135 projects throughout the state that were selected through a competitive, "pork-free" process conducted by the Washington Inter-Agency Committee for Outdoor Recreation, said Maggie Coon, spokeswoman for The Nature Conservancy and chairwoman for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition.

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