Coalition of 280 Nonprofits, Businesses Calls for Legislature to Maximize Outdoor Funding

December 18, 2014

The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, which brings together 280 businesses and nonprofits, urges the legislature to fund the Washington Wildlife & Recreation Program (WWRP) at $97 million.  Governor Inslee today announced funding for WWRP at  $70 million. While his proposal moves in the right direction from final funding of $65 million in last biennium, the need is much greater.  WWRP is the state’s premier grant program for outdoor recreation and conservation projects. Since its creation in 1990, the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program has secured over $1.1 billion in public and private support for projects in every corner of the state.

“The WWRP is a valuable tool for communities across the state that rely on the outdoors for their quality of life and economic vitality,” said Joanna Grist, executive director of the Coalition. “It’s absolutely imperative that legislators in both houses and from both parties work together to maximize funding to safeguard our natural heritage and the 227,000 Washington jobs that depend on outdoor recreation.  There is never a more cost effective time than now to protect our outdoors.”

According to research from the Outdoor Industry Association, Washington’s outdoor recreation supports 227,000 jobs and generates $22.5 billion in economic activity annually, as well as acting as a significant quality of life attractor for top employers.

At $70 million, 80 projects would be funded across the state. The WWRP, funded by the capital construction budget, is separate from the operating budget, which funds things like law enforcement and teachers’ salaries.

The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition led an effort supported by over 500 individuals and organizations across the state calling for $97 million. 122 projects will not be funded at the reduced level. The legislative session will begin in January and a budget is expected to be passed by early summer.

Projects that would receive funding under the Governor’s budget include:

  • Preservation of 7 family farms,
  • 16 neighborhood parks, including Prairie View Park in Spokane, a skate park in Darrington, a playground in Bellevue with amenities for children of all abilities and others,
  • The Twisp Community Trail in the Methow Valley,
  • and increased protection for Dabob Bay, among other projects.

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.