The House recently released their Capital Construction Budget for the 2023-2025 biennium today. Included was $100 million in funding for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP).
This level was a drop from the Senate’s proposed funding level of $120 million. We strongly urge the House to meet or exceed the Senate and Governor’s proposed level in discussions moving forward.
“Robust funding for the WWRP is critical for Washington.” said Christine Mahler, Executive Director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition. “While we greatly appreciate the House maintaining last biennium’s funding level of $100 million, we know that the necessity for matching or exceeding $120 million is there. Outdoor recreation is such an important industry in Washington, and it takes robust funding to meet the unprecedented demand for both recreation and conservation we have seen recently in our state.”
The WWRP remains the biggest funding source for habitat conservation and recreation opportunities like trails, parks, preserving natural areas, restoring critical habitats, and more. From splash pads, county-spanning trails, and beautiful wildlife areas—WWRP projects are the sites people picture when they think of recreating outdoors in Washington.
Overall, the WWRP is a valuable and indispensable tool for promoting healthy, vibrant communities, while also protecting and enhancing our natural resources. A high investment into the WWRP will go a long way towards ensuring a higher quality of life for Washington residents through the mental health benefits, access to the outdoors, and economic growth WWRP projects contribute.
We were happy to see the House meet the Senate’s budget to include $5 million in additional funding for the Planning for Recreation Access Grants. However, we also urge the House, as we did the Senate, to fund these grants robustly at 10 million in order to set a precedent for bettering equity in Washington.
You can read even more at our previous press release on the Senate Budget here.
Increasing the funding level to the Senate’s level of $120 million will include additional projects of local import to communities across the state, including:
- Malaga Waterfront Park which will have development opportunities for shoreline access, active play, field sports, wildlife viewing, and trail access. Despite being on the Columbia River, Malaga has no shoreline parks, trails or boating facilities and is the highest need community in Chelan County for shoreline access!
- An acquisition of the unique 40-acre Woods Lake property in Snohomish County in partnership with the Tulalip Tribes. Woods Lake is a pristine 21-acre freshwater lake surrounded by a shrub-scrub forested wetland featuring bog/fen related species and mixed upland forest. The property will be held by the Tulalip Tribes which has the joint goal of protecting Woods Lake habitat for the wildlife and species that depend on it and enabling cultural access and traditional use for people to connect with the land and as they have done since time immemorial.
- The Willapa Hills Trail, located in Southwest Washington, is a 56.5 mile rail trail that runs east to west, beginning in Chehalis and extending to South Bend. Traversing over century-old trestle bridges, through river valleys, thick forests, and rich farmland, the Willapa Hills Trail is currently being improved to provide recreational activities for all visitors. Resurfacing with compacted gravel will make the trail available for use by hikers, bikers, and equestrians. This project also includes signing for way finding, orientation, and interpretation. Interpretive signage will provide education of local history and the natural environment within the sections; such as the rail road history at Pluvius, Wa.
About the WWRC
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition is committed to creating a greener, healthier, more equitable, and better Washington for all through community outreach, network building, and advocacy for conservation and outdoor recreation funding. The WWRC is Washington’s chief advocate for local conservation and recreation projects across the state. Over thirty years ago, the Coalition led the creation of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP), and remains its chief independent nonprofit advocate and partner to this day. For more information, contact Andres Guerrero-Guzman at andres@WildlifeRecreation.org.