As the External Affairs Manager, it is my responsibility to look ahead two, three, and four years down the road and unearth future WWRP champions at the local level. A large, overriding goal for our team is to encourage as many applications as possible for the next round of WWRP funding. In the last nine months, the Coalition has met with groups of stakeholders in Yakima, Benton, Walla Walla, Chelan, Douglas, Okanogan, Ferry, Kittitas, and Spokane Counties. We target mayors, city council members, park and recreation directors, outdoor recreation user groups, hunters and anglers, land trusts, and many, many others when we head out to local communities all over our state. These are the people who will drive successful WWRP projects and are the folks we need to advocate the most for this program.
In the last 30 days, the Coalition has had the privilege to present information on WWRP to three separate county commissions: Chelan, Douglas, & Kittitas. These meetings allowed Coalition staff to introduce the WWRP to commissioners previously unfamiliar with the program, as well as do Q&As to answer more in-depth questions. We call it our WWRP 101 playbook. County commissioners have a lot of influence in conversations with our State Senators and Representatives. They represent the voice of local communities and our state-level elected officials listen to those voices.
If you look at the track record of successful WWRP projects in specific counties across Washington, there is a common denominator—when there is a culture of collaboration between partners and stakeholders at the local level, it creates an environment where long-term, successful projects can grow roots in the community. County commissioners help strengthen and grow those roots. A big THANK YOU to all of the commissioners in Chelan, Douglas, & Kittitas Counties for the opportunity to present information on the Coalition and WWRP. I look forward to celebrating more successful projects and deepening our partnership in the years to come.