Community Members Thank Senator Parlette for Conservation, Recreation Leadership At Susie Stephens Trail Dedication Ceremony

November 28, 2011

Winthrop–Over 100 people were in attendance Saturday for the dedication of the 400 foot cable bridge on the Susie Stephens Trail.  The bridge is one of more than 40 projects that have been funded in Okanogan County through the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP).

The Town of Winthrop received a $1.4 million WWRP grant to construct the bridge and trail in 2008.  The project is expected to be completed this spring.

Legislators reached across party lines during the 2011 session to save the WWRP grant program and the vital conservation and recreation projects it funds in communities around the state.

To see a complete list of the over $50 million in projects in the Methow Valley, click here.

“I’m very pleased with the support that the legislature has shown for small communities in Eastern Washington” said Fred Wert, chair of the Susie Stephens Trail Committee. “Without the legislature’s support of the WWRP grant program, citizens and visitors could never have accomplished a project like the Susie Stephens Trail.”

Senator Parlette is the ranking minority member for the capital budget in the Senate.  She worked closely with Senator Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor) to secure $42 million in funding for the WWRP in the 2011 session.

Joanna Grist, executive director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, which advocates for the WWRP, added, “Not only are we fortunate enough to live in a state where we have access to incredible recreational opportunities like the Methow Valley, but also that we have leaders like Senator Parlette who ensure the preservation of our natural heritage for our kids and grandkids.”

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’s members consist of a diverse group of over 250 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 their own.

What We Do
The Coalition founded the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) grant program in 1989 to address the need to preserve more land for outdoor recreation and wildlife habitat. A state agency, the Recreation and Conservation Office or RCO, reviews, ranks, and distributes the grants through a competitive process that guarantees that only the best new park, habitat and farm projects are funded. The Coalition lobbies the Governor and the Legislature, which sets the funding level and approves the final list of projects.

The Coalition is also the chief advocate in Washington State for the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

About the RCO
The Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) is a small state agency that manages grant programs to create outdoor recreation opportunities, protect the best of the state’s wildlife habitat and farmland, and help return salmon from near extinction.  Questions about the RCO should go to Susan Zemek (360) 902-3081.

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.

What is the difference between the WWRP and the Coalition?
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition is the non-profit citizens group that serves as the watchdog and advocate for the WWRP grant program.  The WWRP is a state grant program funded by the legislature and administered by the RCO. The Coalition receives no funding from the state. Its operations are instead entirely funded by the generous contributions of individuals, organizations, and corporations.