Task force will help expand conservation conversation across Washington
Following Governor Inslee’s announcement of the executive order creating of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation, businesses, environmental and sportsmen’s groups came together to applaud the administration for recognizing this undervalued economic sector.
“Washington’s lands that created our evergreen identity have an unparalleled effect on our culture and our economy. With a strong public and private partnership, we can achieve the same prestige places like Colorado and Utah already have for their lands,” said Joanna Grist, Executive Director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition. “The Coalition is grateful to Governor Inslee for making the outdoors a top priority.”
The Wildlife and Recreation Coalition was founded on this ethos, bringing together business and recreation interests and securing funding for more than 1,200 trails, parks, wildlife habitat areas, working farms and more in all of Washington’s 39 counties.
“Washington ranks sixth nationally in the number of outdoor recreation jobs,” said Doug Levy, a spokesman for the Recreational Boaters Association and the Recreation and Parks Association. “Nearly two-thirds of Washingtonians participate in outdoor recreation each year.”
“We need a vibrant public conversation about the value of our great outdoors,” said Ted Willhite, a lawyer from Twisp and outdoor advocate. “Conservation and the economy are not mutually exclusive, but inextricably linked, especially here in the Methow Valley, and Eastern Washington in general because everybody lives so close to the land. Whether it is a conservation easement for a working farm or a grant for a new trail, these are all essential amenities that support our way of life.”
The Blue Ribbon Task Force will hold public hearings across the state and release its findings to the legislature in September, according to the Governor’s office.
Last Thursday, business, nonprofit and sportsman leaders joined Governor Jay Inslee in Olympia where he announced the creation of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation before the Wildlife and Recreation Coalition’s legislative reception at the Governor’s Mansion.
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.