FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
[SEATTLE] The joint capital construction budget released today includes a $85 million in funding for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP). This funding level is a $5 million increase over the last biennium’s capital budget.
“We are grateful to legislators for making outdoor recreation and the WWRP a priority in a challenging budget year,” said Christine Mahler, Executive Director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, an independent nonprofit that supports funding for the WWRP. “With so many valuable projects on the line, this funding will go a long way to protecting our wild areas and creating safe, accessible places for our children to play.”
The WWRP is Washington’s primary funder of outdoor community projects. Because of this program, $1.4 billion has been invested into state and local parks, trails, wildlife habitat, working lands, and other community priorities over the last 29 years.
Robust funding for the WWRP is more important than ever as our state’s population growth has accelerated in recent years. WWRP projects mitigate the impacts of rapid population growth, create outdoor opportunities for families across the state, preserve wildlife habitat, and protect working lands.
Governor Inslee’s capital budget proposed $115 million for the WWRP. The preliminary House budget funded WWRP at $80 million, and the Senate’s version brought that number up to $90 million.
“We are pleased to see continued support for this critical program, which fuels the state’s $26.2 billion outdoor recreation economy,” noted Christine. “With the outdoor industry becoming a bigger and bigger player in Washington’s economic landscape, an investment in WWRP is an investment in our state’s prosperity.”
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.
The capital budget funds over 100 projects across the state, including:
- Renovation of Lincoln Park, located in the City of Wenatchee’s most culturally diverse and underserved area. The park development will promote active lifestyles for kids and encourage community connections.
- Protection of old growth forest near Merrill Lake in Cowlitz County. This land provides important habitat for deer, elk, waterfowl, and migratory songbirds as well as opportunities for fly fishing, hunting, and camping.
- Completion of the Spruce Railroad Trail in Olympic National Park, a crucial link in the 145 mile long Olympic Discovery Trail. The project will provide a safe trail for non-motorized visitors, bypassing the dangerous highway route around Lake Crescent.
Other important priorities for outdoor recreation and conservation are also included in the budget, including the Youth Athletic Facilities (YAF) program and the Aquatic Lands Enhancement Act (ALEA) program. YAF, funded at $12 million in the budget, helps to create or modernize outdoor athletic facilities such as swimming pools, skate parks, ball fields, and courts—enabling much-needed recreational opportunities for youth. ALEA, funded at $6.6 million, is critical for habitat restoration and the growing demand for water-based recreation. Both of these programs compliment the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program.
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.
About the WWRC
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition (WWRC) is an independent nonprofit organization that leverages the voices of hundreds of diverse groups working together to ensure robust public funding for Washington’s great outdoors.
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.