Missing Link found: LWCF funds long-awaited project

November 23, 2013

Three recent grants from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund expanded outdoor recreation opportunities in Tacoma, Bothell and Chehalis.

The Point Defiance Missing Link is the culmination of a decades old dream to complete the final segment of the 7-mile waterfront pedestrian connection from downtown Tacoma to the treasured Point Defiance Park.

An interim trail opened in the fall and the final trail will be complete within the next few years, providing new opportunities for everyone who enjoys a waterfront stroll.

“This trail segment is a key investment in increasing both outdoor access and economic vitality in this community,” said state legislator Representative Jake Fey (D-Tacoma). “I thank Congressmen Denny Heck and Derek Kilmer for supporting the LWCF and this grant to complete a renowned trail, work we have already begun at the state level.”

This project is a prime example of how federal support can work in union with community-driven efforts. This grant was made possible by matching dollars from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, the state’s primary funding source for parks, trails, and conservation.

The other recently funded projects include:

Washington’s outdoor recreation economy is worth $22.5 billion annually. Projects like this are essential to fueling that as well as ensuring a high quality of life that supports families and businesses.

Created by Congress in 1965, LWCF is the nation’s premier federal grant program for conservation and outdoor recreation. The program uses no taxpayer dollars. Instead, $900 million in offshore oil and gas lease revenue is meant to be invested in parks and outdoor recreation opportunities each year. However, year after year Congress diverts a majority of LWCF funds for unrelated purposes.

Lack of full funding for the program has left many projects without funding. This year, nine Washington projects, including Tacoma’s Peninsula at Point Defiance, will move to next year’s funding list.

This program continues to receive strong bipartisan support. A recent poll found that 85 percent of American voters think their member of Congress should honor the commitment to fund conservation through LWCF. More than seven-in-ten American voters agree that “even with federal budget problems, funding to safeguard land, air, and water should not be cut.”