This September at the Coalition was bookended by a flurry of legislator project tours across the state. As part of our mission to advocate for the WWRP, we have been taking state legislators out into the field (or park, or forest!) to see WWRP-funded projects in person. You can read about our July and August tours to see where else we’ve been. Visiting local projects makes the WWRP more than just another acronym to a decisionmaker—it brings the program to life and makes the benefits tangible.
The month started off with a bang as our small team tag-teamed three project tours. Outreach & Policy Manager Betsy Robblee went down to the Tri-Cities to tour the Badger Mountain trail project with Representative Matt Boehnke of the 8th district and Representative Bill Jenkin from the 16th district. The legislators had an opportunity to see this beautiful ridgeline trail that’s extremely well-used by the local community and out-of-town visitors alike. Thanks to Coalition members Friends of Badger Mountain for helping organize the tour and sharing their future trail plans.
Executive Director Christine Mahler joined staff and board from the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust to tour the newly funded Cashmere Canyons Preserve with Senator Brad Hawkins from the 12th district. This gorgeous project outside Cashmere in Chelan County will soon contain a new trailhead and trails for the public to enjoy.
Board members John McGlenn and Michael Orbino joined the City of Redmond to give Representative Amy Walen of the 48th district a tour of the Redmond Central Connector Trail. This trail is a key link for pedestrians and bicyclists traveling between major employment centers and a college in downtown Redmond and the surrounding neighborhoods.
A little later in the month, we partnered with the Nisqually Land Trust to give Representative Andrew Barkis of the 2nd district a tour of the Busy Wild Creek Forestland Preservation project. This project received a WWRP Forestland Preservation grant in this year’s Capital Construction budget. The WWRP grant helped the land trust acquire a conservation easement on 320 acres of commercial timberland near Busy Wild Creek in the Nisqually River Watershed. As the co-chair of the Outdoor Recreation Caucus in the Legislature, Rep. Barkis was excited to see the recreation benefits of the project as well as the working forest and habitat protection components. The project permanently protects one mile of the most popular section of the Mount Tahoma Trails hut-to-hut cross-country ski trail. Legislator project tours are always fun, but this one was especially so as we got to eat lunch in one of the ski huts and forage for chanterelle mushrooms!
We ended the month with tours in Southwest Washington and Pierce County. Representative Larry Hoff of the 18th district came out to the Port of Camas-Washougal to see the WWRP-funded Washougal Waterfront Trail and Water Access Area. Rep. Hoff also helped the Port secure Capital Budget funding for a children’s nature play area adjacent to the Waterfront Trail and was thrilled to see the results of his assistance—including a Sasquatch!
The two legislators from the 25th district in Puyallup, Representative Kelly Chambers and Representative Chris Gildon joined us for a tour of two WWRP-funded projects in Puyallup, the Puyallup Valley Sports Complex Field Improvement project and Bradley Lake Park. The City of Puyallup is using a WWRP Local Parks grant to convert the sports field from natural to synthetic turf, which will allow year-round play for a variety of team sports. This improvement could potentially allow the City to attract major youth sports tournaments and thus increased tourism revenue. The tour ended at Bradley Lake Park, a heavily used park that has received several WWRP grants. Even on a Monday morning, the park was full of people walking, cycling, and playing on the playground. Representatives Chambers and Gildon saw their constituents enjoying the benefits of the WWRP, which is exactly why we want to bring them to see these projects in person! Thank you to all the legislators that joined us for project tours this month, and thank you for your support of the WWRP and funding for conservation and recreation in Washington.