FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
After deliberation, the House and Senate agreed on levels for the final Capital Construction Budget for the 2023-2025 biennium. Included was $120 million in funding for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP).
This level represents an all-time record for the WWRP! This funding for the outdoor recreation sector is a much-needed investment in our environment and in our economy. A $20 million increase over last biennium’s capital budget!
“We sincerely thank our legislators for the careful and thoughtful deliberation that went into this budget.” said Christine Mahler, Executive Director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition. “In this crucial period, coming out of the COVID 19 pandemic with unprecedented demand for recreation and unprecedented need for conservation, this funding will be critical for the future of Washington.”
Previously, the Governor and Senate proposed a funding level at $120 million, while the House proposed a level at $100 million. In a show of bipartisanship, the House and Senate agreed on the higher funding level, setting a precedent that outdoor recreation is crucial for Washington’s success.
WWRP funding is allocated through a nationally recognized, impartial ranking process, ensuring that funds are used fairly and for the best projects from throughout the state.
At the funding level of $120 million, the budget would fund 107 WWRP projects across the state. Amongst these projects are:
- Acquisition of Bighorn Ridge, a rare opportunity to acquire over 134 acres of land to expand outdoor recreation access, preserve threatened habitats and provide critical trail linkages to a growing and underserved part of the Wenatchee valley.
- Acquisition of 16 parcels, totaling approximately 105 acres, in King County near Black Diamond by WA State Parks. State Parks plans for the Conservation Area include a trail along the south rim of the gorge, from Kanaskat-Palmer State Park to Flaming Geyser State Park. This acquisition will also protect habitat corridors between the Green River and properties in King County’s Bass Lake Complex to the south.
- Development of a public Skatepark and Pump Track in the heart of town at Druzianich Park in the City of Westport. The facility, designed by Grindline Skateparks Inc, will challenge individuals of all skill levels using wheeled recreational devices. This facility will be the first of its kind in the rural coastal community of Westport, filling a need for an outdoor space where the children of our community can enjoy activities such as skateboarding, rollerblading, biking, and scooters.
The Coalition was also thrilled to see other items and priorities for outdoor recreation and conservation funded in the budget. The Youth Athletic Facilities (YAF) program was funded at $10.4 million, Aquatic Lands enhancement Act (ALEA) program at $5.9 million, Planning for Recreation Access (PRA) grants at $5 million, and more.
These programs serve some key demographics and opportunities—from serving underrepresented populations in Washington, creating youth facilities, and critically funding habitat restoration and water-based recreation. All these programs complement the WWRP.
In particular, we believe the legislature set a precedent of funding equity-based work in the outdoors– a trend which we hope continues in the coming years. We have all learned how crucial and important this work is and we hope to see it driven forward both within the Coalition and outside of it.
The Coalition thanks the Legislature for their hard work and bipartisan spirit in passing this budget and looks forward to continuing the growth of the WWRP. As demand for outdoor recreation and our population grows, this program is more needed than ever.
For the full ranked list see here.
About the WWRC
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition is committed to creating a greener, healthier, more equitable, and better Washington for all through community outreach, network building, and advocacy for conservation and outdoor recreation funding. The WWRC is Washington’s chief advocate for local conservation and recreation projects across the state. Over thirty years ago, the Coalition led the creation of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP), and remains its chief independent nonprofit advocate and partner to this day. For more information, contact Andres Guerrero-Guzman at andres@WildlifeRecreation.org.
About the WWRP
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) is our state’s premier conservation and recreation grant program which provides matching funds to create new local and state parks, protect wildlife habitat, and preserve working lands.