Parks, wildlife habitat, farmland preservation and shoreline protection would receive a much-needed boost in Governor Christine Gregoire’s 2007-2009 budget proposal.
The Governor’s version of the budget, released December 20, includes $70 million for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) a state grant program that protects habitat and creates new local and state parks. The WWRP has been funded at around $50 million per biennium since the program was created in 1990. Over the past 16 years the WWRP has funded nearly 800 projects throughout Washington State.
While very positive, the $70 million falls short of the $100 million supporters of the WWRP have been advocating for the program, and would mean many worthwhile projects would not be funded. Some opportunities for important community park development, habitat acquisition and farmland preservation may be lost as a result.
Although supporters are very appreciative of the Governor?s proposed increase in the WWRP budget, they will now turn their attention to the State Legislature to try and increase funding to the $100 million level.
Governor Gregoire’s proposed budget for the WWRP will go far towards improving our quality of life, which is so important to keeping our economy strong, said Joanna Grist, Director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition. But additional funding is essential because many of these projects may soon be out of reach as real estate prices and other costs increase. These projects represent investments we can make now for Washington’s future.
Supporters of increasing WWRP funding to $100 million, led by the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition (www.wildliferecreation.org) include a broad range of organizations representing diverse interests from across the state, including Priorities for a Healthy Washington, the Washington Realtors, the Washington State Association of Counties, State Parks Commission, State Fish and Wildlife Commission and dozens of other groups (see the Coalition?s website for more.)
This year, the Interagency Committee, a State committee that oversees WWRP grant-making, has recommended funding 133 park, trail, habitat area and working farm preservation projects across the state. The complete list, including the county, the type of project and the amount of funding, is viewable here: http://www.wildliferecreation.org/files/2007%20Ranked%20WWRP%20Projects%20FINAL.pdf
More information on projects in your area can be found by using the Coalition’s My Backyard feature on the upper right of the website, and searching by county, city or legislative district.
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) is a state grant program that helps local communities create new parks, protect wildlife habitat, and conserve farmland and shorelines. Since 1990, over $450 million has been provided for more than 750 neighborhood parks, ball fields, trails, beaches, wildlife habitat areas and state parks. By requiring that local projects provide a match, WWRP grants leverage funding from cities, counties and park districts, as well as private and philanthropic funding sources.
Chaired by former Governors Dan Evans and Mike Lowry, the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition is an advocacy organization made up of over 270 varied organizations and businesses that work to ensure the WWRP receives adequate support to develop local, regional and state recreation and wildlife areas. The Coalition?s website, with more background and descriptions of previously funded projects across the state, is: http://www.WildlifeRecreation.org