Legislative Session 2024 Recap: Short, busy, and mighty!

March 26, 2024

The short session wrapped up earlier this month, and it certainly flew by fast and stayed busy! We saw many items on our priorities list get funding and the legislation also tended to do well. During the short sessions the Coalition supports partner/agency initiatives, as WWRP funding is only (generally) in play during the budget sessions!

Community Forests Program Funding

Pictured above is Hoquiam Community Forest, one of the two projects that remained unfunded after the 2023 session on the Community Forests Program list. Luckily, the legislature allocated 5.7 million to fully fund the two remaining projects (the other being Lagoon Point Community Forest on Whidbey Island)!

This funding will help support and protect hundreds of acres of forestland that provides critical habitat and recreational access, in addition to support for local economies

Renewing and Updating the Outdoor Economic Study

$150,000 was appropriated to this crucial study that continues to inform organizations like ours, and many more, on the current state of outdoor recreation and conservation. We’re happy to see this funding especially since the last change was per-pandemic and the landscape has changed substantially since then in our sector.

DFW Forest Health Funding

An additional $2 million was allocated towards the Forest Health package and this funding will continue to help towards the restoration and preservation of many acres of forested landscape.

Equity Positions at State HEAL Agencies

The Environmental Justice Council recommended that all State HEAL agencies receive funding for an equity position that would focus on addressing and assessing equity barriers in Climate Commitment Act funded grant programs.

The legislature appropriated $253,000 only for the Department of Commerce in this initiative.

Collective Agreements for the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) in partnering for land management

This legislation did indeed pass and was signed by the Governor! Very exciting for many of our partners as this gives DFW the authority to manage conservation and recreation areas with other public agency, nonprofit orgs, volunteers, or volunteer organizations. It also allows for clear liability language for volunteers and the opportunity for contracts/agreements to be set between DFW and the above types of agencies and orgs.

Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Recreational Use Fees

This legislation passed and was signed by the Governor!

This bill allows DNR to receive the same statutory authority as State Parks and WDFW to charge administrative fees without compromising their Recreational Immunity. In particular, this will allow DNR to develop a fee structure for recreation permits that is consistent across all regions, reducing ambiguity and normalizing their system.

Parks RX Pilot Programs

This bill would allow for three or more pilot programs that allow prescriptions to the outdoors to be given out by physicians.

Unfortunately, this bill did not pass.

Reinvesting account revenue to support the State Parks system

This bill would have redistributed the interest generated from State Parks revenue (things like park fees) back into the Parks system. Currently, it accrues into the main general fund.

Unfortunately, this bill did not pass.

That’s all for this session! If you’d like to read more details or learn more, you can find it under our policy priorities section of our website.