STATEWIDE: The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition’s Board of Directors has voted to recommend the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program’s budget be significantly increased next year to reflect the over whelming demand for new parks and habitat.
The recommendation would increase WWRP funding from $50 million for the 2005-07 biennium to $100 million that would be available for wildlife lands acquisition, park development and renovation, and farmland conservation for the 2007-09 biennium.
“As our population grows, it’s more important than ever to invest in Washington’s wildlife and recreation infrastructure,” said Maggie Coon, Director of External Affairs at The Nature Conservancy and President of the Coalition’s Board of Directors. “The projects funded through the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program are as integral to our quality of life as our schools or roads. Unless we act now, the opportunity to acquire, develop and conserve many great places will be gone forever.”
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) is a state grant program that helps local communities create new parks, protect wildlife habitat, and conserve farmland and shorelines. Since 1990, over $450 million has been provided for more than 700 neighborhood parks, ball fields, trails, beaches, wild life habitat areas and state parks. By requiring that local projects provide a match, WWRP grants leverage funding from cities, counties and park districts, as well as private and philanthropic funding sources. This year the state has received over $150 million in project requests. All projects will be graded, and at $100 Million, only the top two-thirds of the projects for parks, trails, shorelines and wildlife habitat would be funded.
Chaired by former Governors Dan Evans and Mike Lowry, the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition (WWRC) is an advocacy organization made up of over 270 varied organizations and businesses that work to ensure the WWRP receives adequate support to develop local, regional and state recreation and wildlife areas.
“The Coalition has helped secure funding for hundreds of worthwhile projects, from parks to bird watching habitat,” said J. Lennox Scott, Chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate and board member of the Coalition. “The $100 million recommendation is more than we’ve ever requested, but given the crowding of our parks and the loss of wildlife habitat, it’s absolutely essential that we support the funding of so many important projects that benefit all of us.”
The Coalition will urge that Governor Gregoire include $100 million for the WWRP in the budget she submits to the State Legislature next January.
The Coalition’s website, with more background and descriptions of previously funded projects across the state, is available at www.wildliferecreation.org http://www.wildliferecreation.org. A summary of the WWRP grant program is available at the Interagency Committee Web site at: http://www.iac.wa.gov/iac/grants/wwrp.htm http://www.iac.wa.gov/iac/grants/wwrp.htm.