Amendments to state grant program will increase access to state funds for protecting parks, wildlife habitat and working farms

November 24, 2008

Seattle — In the 2009 legislative session, the Coalition will pursue amendments to the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) statute that will allow the state Conservation Commission and qualified non-profit organizations to apply for WWRP grants. Currently, state and local agencies, tribes and special districts such as school districts are eligible to apply.

If passed by the legislature, the amendments put forth by the Coalition will allow the state’s Conservation Commission and non-profit organizations such as land trusts to apply for funding in the WWRP grant program’s Riparian Protection and Farmland Preservation categories.  The Coalition is asking the legislature to provide $28 million for grants in these two categories.

Rather than working through other natural resource agencies to submit WWRP applications, the Conservation Commission will be allowed to apply to the Recreation and Conservation Office directly.  The Conservation Commission would accept project nominations from conservation districts throughout the state.  A sector within the commission, the Office of Farmland Preservation, would oversee the process.

The Coalition also proposes that non-profit organizations be eligible to apply for WWRP grants. In rural communities, local land trusts have strong, established relationships with landowners and can work productively with them in submitting applications for funding. Also, non profit organizations often have the capacity to move more quickly than state agencies in completing the complex grant applications.

The Coalition board of directors unanimously approved the amendments as components of the Coalition’s Legislative Agenda for the 2009 session. The Coalition’s top priority is to sustain $100 million for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program.