Over 100 outdoor recreation, conservation projects ranked as state priorities, need funding from legislature

October 1, 2014

More than 100 recreation, wildlife habitat and working lands projects around the state of Washington have been ranked as priority projects by the Recreation Conservation Office (RCO).

Whether the 33 counties and dozens of communities who would benefit from these projects are able to complete them is dependent on adequate funding of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP).

Proposed projects include:

“We know that the outdoors don’t have just an environmental and recreation significance in our state,” said Governor Jay Inslee last week at the Wildlife and Recreation Coalition’s annual breakfast. “This is a $22 billion sector in our economy.”

The outdoor recreation economy supports 227,000 jobs in Washington alone and acts as a significant quality-of-life attractor for highly-skilled workers in fields like tech and aerospace.

In the last biennium, Governor Inslee proposed more WWRP funding than any governor to date, requesting the legislature fund the program at $75 million.

More than 80 projects were funded last year with $65 million allocated from the capital construction budget.

In June, the Coalition board requested Governor Inslee propose $97 million in funding for the WWRP to reflect growing need and maximize economic benefits of the outdoors.

“Governor Inslee understands the importance of preserving our state’s natural heritage. Investing in the outdoors now would continue to pay dividends for decades to come,” said Joanna Grist, executive director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, which advocates for WWRP funding. “Communities across Washington need forward-thinking leadership from Olympia this year as our population increases and demand for outdoor recreation and conservation continues to grow.”

Since it was established in 1989, the WWRP grant program has continued to gain broad bipartisan support in the legislature as well as support from over 280 organizations representing conservation, business, recreation, hunting, fishing, farming, and community interests as members of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition.

A list of the projects with the Coalition’s estimates for what would be funded at $97 million can be found here. (PDF)

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.