April 3 Update: Due to the growing fiscal threat faced by the COVID-19 outbreak, Governor Inslee used his line-item veto authority to cut $235 million from the 2020 supplemental operating budget passed by the Legislature last month. Unfortunately, those cuts included several Coalition-supported budget items, including $500,000 for the No Child Left Inside grant program, $300,000 for the WWRP stewardship project, and $75,000 for the outdoor recreation advisory group. The Coalition is disappointed to see these important investments cut, but we understand the need to address this unprecedented crisis and prepare for reductions in state revenue. We look forward to advocating for these projects, as well as robust funding for the WWRP, during next year’s legislative session. These past few weeks have demonstrated both the strong demand for outdoor recreation and the importance of nature for physical and mental health, and we will continue our work to provide access to the outdoors for all Washingtonians.
March 18: In the midst of these uncertain times, we have some good news to share: lawmakers showed strong support for Washington’s outdoors in the 2020 supplemental budget! The state Legislature adjourned last week after a short 60-day session, and made some important investments in outdoor recreation and conservation. Thanks to the support of YOU, our Coalition members and Legislative Day advocates, we achieved some big wins:
- $500,000 in additional funding for the No Child Left Inside grant program.This funding will allow more under-served youth with opportunities to experience the outdoors, often at WWRP-funded state and local parks. In 2019, there was significant demand for this grant funding and many applications were left unfunded. Thanks to our state lawmakers, more kids will now be able to experience the outdoors!
- Significant investment in public lands stewardship. The Coalition believes that adequate operating funding for our state natural resource agencies is necessary to protect valuable public resources and provide for safe public access to WWRP-funded lands. We’re thrilled that the Legislature provided:
- $300,000 for a Coalition-requested project to develop a standardized methodology to measure and report stewardship needs and costs on lands purchased through WWRP,
- $2.3 million for State Parks maintenance and operations work to help reduce the maintenance backlog and steward our world class state parks, and
- Full funding for the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s core services of wildlife habitat protection and restoration.
- $75,000 in one-time funding for an outdoor recreation advisory group. The advisory group will bring together state agencies and stakeholders to develop a bold vision and legislative strategy to invest in, promote, and support outdoor recreation in Washington. As a member of the advisory group, we look forward to discussions about creating sustainable funding sources for outdoor recreation.
The Coalition is grateful to our lawmakers for all their hard work on behalf of our great outdoors, and their leadership during this challenging time.