The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition formally announced it will request $100 million from the state capital construction budget to continue its mission of protecting parks, preserving wildlife habitat and saving working farms across Washington. Coalition Executive Director Joanna Grist confirmed the legislative request at the Coalition’s annual breakfast at the Westin in downtown Seattle Sept. 21. More than 500 environmental and recreational land use supporters from across the state and Oregon attended the breakfast.
Last June, the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition’s Board of Directors voted to request $100 million from the state 2011 capital construction budget to meet the growing demand for new state and local parks, to protect habitat for fish and wildlife and to preserve productive farmland. Of the $100 million, almost $5 million is slated for projects in King County.
WWRP is funded out of the state capital construction budget, and does not compete with essential services funded out of the operations budget, such as teachers or firefighters. In fact, public lands and open space create jobs. According to a study published by REI, $11.7 billion of the state economy is tied to public lands — that equates to 115,000 jobs and $650,000 in state tax revenue. Bill Riley, 2010 president of the Washington Association of Realtors, noted that location near a park can bring between 3 and 20 percent more for a home.
“Realtors look at this as a necessary part of our quality of life mission. It’s just like infrastructure, like water, bridges, and roads,” Riley said. “This is the best time to buy land in the past decade. If we underfund this program, we’ll miss out.”
The WWRP funds park, habitat and farmland preservation projects throughout Washington. Since 1990, the WWRP has provided more than $615 million for more than 1,000 neighborhood and state parks, ball fields, trails, beaches, farms and wildlife habitat areas. This year, cities, counties, and state lands departments requested $192 million in grants to fund almost 280 projects across the state.
The Recreation and Conservation Office, the state agency that administers the WWRP grant program, competitively ranks the projects to ensure only the best are funded. Projects that rank the highest — those that are shovel-ready and that have the most community support — will receive funding in 2011 once the Legislature and Governor approve the budget. Projects in King County include:
• Covington Community Park sports field expansion, $500,000
• Enumclaw Field improvements, $300,000
• South Issaquah Creek Greenway (ph. 4), $275,000
• Summit Park and Ball Fields (ph. 1), $500,000
• Lake Meridian Park Renovation (ph. 1), $188,950
• Clark Lake expansion, $430,477
• Duthie Hill Park trailhead development, $256,036
• Cougar Mountain Park Precipice Trail additions, $500,000
• Green River – Kanaskat Reach, $880,000
• East Lake Sammamish Trail development, $500,000
• West Seattle Reservoir Park development, $500,000
For a complete list of projects, visit http://wildliferecreation.org/wwrp-projects/counties/King_county. Include the dash between “wwrp” and “projects.”
By requiring that local projects provide matching funds, WWRP grants leverage funding from cities, counties and park districts, as well as private and philanthropic funding sources.
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition is a non-profit citizens group founded in 1989 by Govs. Dan Evans and Mike Lowry. In 1990, the Coalition convinced the Legislature to create the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program to provide a source of grant funding to protect parks, wildlife and fish habitat, forest lands, working farms, and open space areas across the state. Today, the Coalition includes more than 270 businesses and environmental, recreational, and community groups in Washington. Since 1990, the Program has provided more than $615 million for more than 1,000 neighborhood and state parks, ball fields, trails, beaches, farms and wildlife habitat areas. To learn more, visit the Coalition’s website at www.WildlifeRecreation.org.