[Seattle, WA] Today, Governor Inslee released his budget, which includes $100 million in funding for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP). His proposal is a great step towards meeting the current needs of the program, which are largely driven by the state’s significant population growth. The WWRP, funded through the capital construction budget, is the state’s premier grant program for outdoor recreation and conservation projects. Since the program’s inception in 1989, the WWRP has successfully leveraged over $1.3 billion for more than 1,200 projects, conserving wildlife habitat and creating not only parks, but also jobs, revenue, and increased quality of life throughout the state.
“As the WWRP’s primary advocate, the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition is thrilled that Governor Inslee has funded the program at this well-deserved historic level. His budget recognizes how important it is for this program to keep pace with our state’s rapid population growth,” said Coalition Executive Director Andrea McNamara Doyle. “The multiple economic and environmental benefits of these investments will help ensure Washington remains such a special place where people choose to live, work, and recreate in our great outdoors.”
According to research from the Outdoor Industry Association, Washington’s outdoor recreation supports more than 227,000 jobs and generates $22.5 billion in economic activity annually, as well as drawing top employers from around the country. And a growing body of scientific evidence shows that spending time engaging in outdoor recreation leads to a wide range of health and wellness benefits for people of all ages.
This autumn, the Coalition collected signatures from thousands statewide in support of $120 million for WWRP. More than 140 organizations and opinion leaders and over 1,100 individuals signed the letter of support, demonstrating how important this program is to Washingtonians across our beautiful state.
In 2016 alone, 98 different local, state, tribal, and non-profit groups submitted 220 applications for funding in the next biennium to acquire, develop, and restore habitat and recreation lands in every region of Washington. At $100 million, 118 of these projects would be funded by the WWRP. At $120 million, an additional 18 farmland preservation, local parks, and other conservation and recreation projects would receive funding from the program.
With the start of legislative session approaching, we respectfully urge the legislature to fund this vital program at $120 million. In doing so, they will support the growing outdoor recreation economy of Washington, preserve natural treasures in danger of being lost forever, and increase the health, happiness, and prosperity of our residents.
About the Coalition
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition is a nonprofit organization that leverages the voices of over 280 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.