[Seattle, WA] This February, the state will start accepting applications for Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) grants to build trails, parks, renovate existing recreation sites, and preserve valuable habitat and working lands. One important change this year is a new “match reduction” policy, which will ease the financial burden for communities who cannot raise matching resources to build or renovate their needed parks or trails.
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition is pleased to support this new policy, which will further our goal of providing all Washingtonians with ample, affordable, and safe access to our great outdoors.
“We listened to local leaders who told us that they often can’t build community parks or trails because they can’t raise the required matching funds. With this new policy, certain communities would have their required match reduced, some to as low as 10 percent,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO), which administers the grants.
During the past year, RCO staff worked with community members, consultants, and elected officials across Washington state to develop this approach to reducing match requirements, which was mandated by the legislature’s update to the WWRP in 2016.
Match reductions are now available to four eligible groups of applicants:
- Communities in Need: Grant applicants in jurisdictions of fewer than 20,000 residents where the Median Household Income (MHI) falls below the Washington State MHI. There is a special provision for jurisdictions in which 20 percent or more of the population are college students (in this situation, the Median Family Income will be used as a measurement instead of the MHI).
- Underserved Populations: Grant applicants in jurisdictions with a MHI less than the state MHI that are applying for a project located in a census block group with a MHI of 70 percent of the state’s median.
- Counties in Need: Grant applicants in counties with a MHI less than 70 percent of the state MHI, which are categorized as “distressed” according to the Washington Employment Security Department, and have 60 percent or more nontaxable land base.
- Federal Disaster Areas: Grant applicants in jurisdictions that are within an area that is a federally declared disaster area.
Communities can find out if they are eligible for reduced match by checking out RCO’s online resources.
To take advantage of these grant programs, jurisdictions must have an approved plan that details the goals and objectives, inventory, public involvement, demand and need analysis, capital improvement program, and plan adoption by March 1. They also must file their grant application by May 1. Interested applicants should check out the planning requirements and the RCO’s application guide for more information.
Washington is blessed with some of the most beautiful geographic areas in the nation, and bountiful opportunities for outdoor recreation. The Coalition fully supports the match reduction policy and encourages eligible communities to apply before May 1.