FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Coalition asks Inslee, legislature to increase outdoors funding to meet increased demandJun 12, 2014
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition formally announced its request that Governor Inslee and the legislature commit $97 million to fund outdoor recreation and conservation projects through the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP)
The Coalition believes increased funding for the WWRP is needed to meet the demand of a growing population in addition to rising construction and land costs.
Statewide, the nearly 220 proposals from 34 counties submitted for the WWRP include:
21 multi-use trails
37 farmland conservation easements to preserve working lands
45 habitat preservation and restoration projects
114 local and state parks, water access and other outdoor recreation projects
Projects listed by county can be viewed here.
“When the Coalition was founded 25 years ago, the state was faced with rapidly disappearing habitat and access to the outdoors without any effective way to stop the losses,” said Peter Dykstra, president of the Coalition and partner at Plauché and Carr. “The WWRP has, without a doubt, given the citizen's of Washington a fighting chance. This year’s project list proves that communities still need our help conserving their treasured places. The Coalition is requesting a WWRP funding level that will continue our legacy of protecting Washington's great outdoors.”
The WWRP grant program is funded through state bonds in the capital construction budget.
Two thirds of Washingtonians participate in outdoor recreation each year and all residents rely on conservation to ensure access to clean water and locally-grown produce. The state’s population is expected to increase by 2 million by 2040, putting increased pressure on natural resources.
“We thank Governor Inslee for his foresight in supporting robust conservation funding,” said Joanna Grist, executive director of the Coalition. “He was the first governor since Mike Lowry to propose a higher level than the legislature for this critical program. Inslee has proven that he understands the connection between our outdoors and economic vitality.”
Last year, Inslee proposed $75 million for the WWRP. The state legislature funded the program at $65 million in the capital construction budget, funding more than 90 projects. This year, applications to the state’s premier outdoors grant program increased by 17 percent over the 2012 application cycle. It would take $153.8 million to fund all the 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.
About the Coalition
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition is a non-profit citizens group founded in a historic bipartisan effort by former Governors Dan Evans and Mike Lowry. The Coalition promotes public funding for Washington's outdoors through the state Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program and the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. Members consist of a diverse group of over 280 organizations representing conservation, business, recreation, hunting, fishing, farming and community interests. The breadth and diversity of the Coalition is the key to its success -- no one member could secure such a high level of funding for parks and habitat on its own.