Governor Inslee, Coalition celebrate 25 years of conservation, look toward unmet need for the outdoors

September 23, 2014

SEATTLE — The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition’s 25th anniversary breakfast convened nearly 700 attendees at the Westin where Governor Jay Inslee announced the results of his Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation.

Funding for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, which the Coalition founded in 1989 and remains its primary watchdog and advocate, is listed as one of the 12 action items in the final report.

In June, the Coalition board requested Governor Inslee support the organization’s request to fund the WWRP at $97 million to reflect growing need and maximize economic benefits of the outdoors.

“We know that the outdoors don’t have just an environmental and recreation significance in our state,” said Inslee. “This is a $22 billion sector in our economy.”

The outdoor recreation economy supports 227,000 jobs in Washington alone and acts as a significant quality-of-life attractor for highly-skilled workers in fields like tech and aerospace.

The Coalition raised $279,000 today as the organization and its 280 business, nonprofit and government partners look toward the next 25 years of protecting Washington’s great outdoors.

“You may not think of this organization as being the leading advocate for the local field your kids use for baseball, soccer or lacrosse practice, but in fact it is. And any parent can tell you that our existing ballfields are at capacity,” said Richard Wynne, Director of Business Strategy for Boeing and Coalition board member. “The population of our region is only expected to grow, and with it, demand for more parks, more trails, more wild space, and more local food will just continue to increase. That means the Coalition’s work is more necessary than ever before.”

The attendees comprised businesses like Boeing, BNSF and Washington Realtors as well as conservation groups like The Nature Conservancy and Forterra.

Bill Robinson of The Nature Conservancy in Washington was honored as this year’s Joan Thomas Award recipient in recognition of his years of dedication in securing robust funding for the state’s great outdoors.

For the occasion, Commissioner of State Lands Peter Goldmark said, “Bill Robinson is one of the smartest and most effective voices for conservation in our state. He has worked tirelessly to promote funding for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, as well as many other critical conservation efforts, ensuring that we leave future generations a landscape that retains the wildness which feeds our souls and draws many of us to this beautiful state.”

To date the Coalition has successfully leveraged over $1.1 billion in state, local and private dollars for over 1,200 parks, trails, wildlife habitat and working farm projects.

Photos and video of the event are available upon request.

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 promotes public funding for Washington’s outdoors through the state Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program and the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. Members consist of a diverse group of over 280 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 its own.