MONDAY, MARCH 25, 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE[SEATTLE] The House capital construction budget released today includes $80 million in funding for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP). While falling short of the $115 million included in Governor Inslee’s budget, the House’s proposal matches the last biennium’s WWRP funding level.
“We recognize that the House has made some difficult funding decisions in the process of crafting this budget and thank them for holding the line on WWRP funding,” said Christine Mahler, Executive Director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, an independent nonprofit advocate for the WWRP. “However, we respectfully urge the Senate to grow this baseline to ensure that communities across the state can create outdoor opportunities for families, hunters, anglers, bird watchers, and paddlers. With thousands of people moving to our state each week, we must do more to protect our land and water.”
The WWRP is the state’s premier grant program for habitat conservation and outdoor recreation opportunities. The program has played a significant role in our state’s landscape and quality of life, investing over $1.4 billion into state and local parks, trails, wildlife habitat, working lands, and other community priorities across the state.
Robust funding for the WWRP is more important than ever as our state’s population growth has accelerated in recent years. WWRP projects mitigate the impacts of rapid population growth, create outdoor opportunities for families across the state, preserve wildlife habitat, and protect working lands.
Governor Inslee’s capital budget proposed $115 million for the WWRP. The House budget matches the $80 million for WWRP included in the 2017-2019 capital construction budget. This funding will be allocated via a nationally-recognized impartial ranking process, ensuring that funds are used fairly and for the best projects.
The House budget would fund 117 projects across the state, including:
- Acquisition of 1,080 acres in the Hoh River watershed on the Olympic Peninsula to restore old-growth forest, floodplain, and stream habitat, while preserving access for hunting, fishing, boating, birding, and hiking.
- Renovation of the 50-year-old Recreation Park in the City of Chehalis to make the park more accessible to people with disabilities and make many needed upgrades to ballfields.
- Completion of the 25-mile long Ferry County Rail Trail in northeast Washington.
However, funding the program at just $80 million will exclude projects of local import to communities across the state, including:
- Development of a railroad bridge and trail to Meadowdale Beach Park in Snohomish County, to improve beach access and address safety concerns.
- Improvements to Nespelem Community Park on the Colville Reservation, to create a much-needed recreation opportunity for youth.
- Acquisition of land and shoreline near Lake Kapowsin in Pierce County, to improve habitat for salmon and waterfowl and provide fishing opportunities.
About the WWRC
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition (WWRC) is an independent nonprofit organization that leverages the voices of hundreds of diverse groups working together to ensure robust public funding for Washington’s great outdoors.
About the WWRP
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) is our state’s premier conservation and recreation grant program which provides matching funds to create new local and state parks, protect wildlife habitat, and preserve working lands.