The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office announced the award of more than $2 million in grants to help diverse, urban neighborhoods and rural communities plan for outdoor recreation facilities. The grants were awarded to 21 different organizations in 15 counties and ranged from $35,000 to $250,000. Many of the grants will help smaller communities write parks and recreation plans, which then can be used to apply for development grants, and some will help communities plan specific projects.
For example, the communities of Mattawa, Oroville, Carbonado and Morton will use grants to develop park and open space plans. The Seattle Parks Foundation will use a grant to develop construction documents to transform an elementary school playground and field into a community recreation area while the City of Quincy will use a grant to redesign and add to its community’s athletic fields. The Spokane Tribe will use a grant to design the renovation of Snwx mene (Salmon People) Island, formally known as Canada Island, in Riverfront Park. Read more about other projects funded here!
The Legislature funded the Planning for Recreation Access grant program in 2021 as a way to fund planning projects in communities that lack adequate access to outdoor recreation opportunities. The program focuses on diverse urban neighborhoods, small rural communities and those with less experience writing grants.
Currently, out of a total of 99 applicants, only 20 are being funded fully and one is being funded partially. This leaves 78 applicants without funding for crucial planning work that will go a long way towards addressing access disparities in the outdoors. RCO noted that of the 99 applicants, three-fourths hadn’t received recreation grants with RCO in the past decade, and nearly half hadn’t applied for an RCO grant during that time.
The Coalition, together with other recreation and conservation partners, put together a letter to the legislature that urges full funding ($10 million in additional funds) for these grants. We believe that it is especially important to set a precedent that equity matters and recent studies have shown that planning grants are needed to address access disparities.
The Coalition urges you to make your voice heard on this! Contact the legislator’s in your district and join us in this ask for funding an additional $10 million for the PRA grants. We have already shared information with legislators about this opportunity for communities, but we hope you’ll contact them directly, and encourage community members to do the same. Legislators listen well to community concerns and love hearing about plans for projects in their district—any details of how much this will impact your community will go a long way for them!
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