With the change in weather and the rapid approach of legislative session, we also have the end of tour season for the WWRC. Every year, we aim to get legislators out to WWRP funded project sites across the state, as an opportunity to see the work of WWRP in person and allowing communities to voice the impact of the grants that created the projects.
This year, between June and November, we scheduled a total of 14 legislator tours, ranging over 13 districts. We had many new legislators from the past election cycle and had the ambitious goal of reaching at least 15 legislators this year. And I’m happy to say, we met that goal with a grand total of 18 legislators joining us on our tours this year! Altogether, the legislators toured a total of 17 sites, sometimes touring multiple grant projects in one tour!
Project tours have been a staple at WWRC for many years and it’s easy to see why. Hearing from communities directly about what a project meant to them really opens up the big picture. Often, if not always, projects take many years, much thought, a lot of dedication and work, from members of the community and public agencies. These stories are difficult to get across on paper, but spoken, out loud, on a project tour you truly see the passion from the community.
Our first tour this year was in Othello with Representative Bryan Sandlin and Senator Torres, to visit Kiwanis Spray Park. More than ten community members were present to talk about how much this park has meant to Othello. The community was extremely welcoming and we heard from them the additional plans and projects already in the works for the park. We even had the opportunity to stop at a Paleteria (popsicle/ice cream shop) after the tour with the community!
Paleteria in Othello After Tour! Ancestral Lands of the Palouse, Yakama, Moses-Columbia, Wanapum, and Colville People
This year, we did a couple of multi-site tours, one of which happened in the 5th district in August. We visited, with Representative Lisa Callan, Lake Sammamish State Park and heard from WA State Parks and the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust on all the work that has been done over the years at this State Park I grew up very close to. We then visited a trailhead at Tiger Mountain, where Department of Natural Resources representatives told us about the area and the landscape that DNR cares for. At the end, we visited Centennial Fields All Inclusive Playground in the City of Snoqualmie. There we met with community members, a school principal, and city employees who had much to say about the future plans for the park and how important it will be in increasing access to many children in the area.
On Centennial Fields Park. Ancestral Lands of the Snoqualmie People
More recently, I had the opportunity to co-lead my first tour at Camp Sealth on Vashon Island. This project protected acres of land at the Camp, allowing it to stay a camp in the future without fear of development or acquisition! As you probably have guessed by now—given the theme of these tours – we met with MANY people on this tour, from Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust partners, to Vashon-Maury Land Trust representatives, to camp employees. We heard about the wide variety of work and impact this camp has had and even found out the legislator, Senator Nguyen, who toured with us has camped with his kids before there. A really beautiful and invaluable space that exists on Vashon for sure!
On Camp Sealth Grounds. Ancestral Lands of the Suquamish, Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla People
The impact of the WWRP is really notable and something that I’ve learned over my first year at the Coalition. But it goes beyond just the grant money, these projects mean so much more to communities than just that. They are spaces where they can recreate, enjoy company, relax, play, and build relationships. It really drives home that the work we aim to do towards furthering equity with the program and other programs in Washington is extremely important. Everyone deserves those memories and spaces.
For those interested, here’s a snapshot of all the tours that we went on this year:
2023 Legislator Tours
Rep. Sandlin and Sen. Torres (LD 15) – Kiwanis Spray Park – City of Othello
Rep. Stearns, Rep. Entenman, and Sen. Kauffman (LD47) – Covington Community Park Sports Field and Trails
Sen. Wilson (LD 19) – Cape Disappointment Multi-Use Trail Extension – Ilwaco, WA
Rep. Reeves (LD30) – Saghalie Park – Federal Way
Rep. Dye (LD 9) – Dishman Hills – Spokane Valley
Rep. Callan (LD 5) – Lake Sammamish State Park, Tiger Mountain, and City of Snoqualmie Parks
Rep. Barnard and Sen. Boehnke (LD 8) – Columbia Park – Kennewick, WA
Rep. Fosse (LD 38) – Smith Island – Snohomish, WA
Rep. Schmidt and Rep. Christian (LD 4) – Beacon Hill – Spokane, WA
Rep. Shavers (LD 10) – Bell’s Farm – Whidbey Island
Sen. Nguyen (LD 34) – Camp Sealth Conservation Easement – Vashon Island
Rep. Connors (LD 8) – Claybell Park – City of Richland
Sen. Salomon (LD 32) – Sprague’s Pond Park Addition, Scriber Lake Park Boardwalk Trail, Scriber Lake Trail Phase 3, South Lynnwood Park Renewal (All in Lynnwood)
Huge thank you to all the legislators who toured with us, all the legislative assistants that helped plan the tours, and our partners and community surrounding us for supporting the WWRP! Keep an eye on our upcoming legislative day if you want to continue supporting WWRP and other initiatives in the outdoors!
Written by Andres Guerrero-Guzman (Outreach and Policy Associate, WWRC)