Skagit Community to Receive $535,000 for Cypress Island, Secret Harbor

April 15, 2012

Thanks to Rep. Jeff Morris, Rep. Kristine Lytton, Sen. Kevin Ranker

Cypress Island, WA — In a last minute agreement before session ended, legislators released their final capital construction budget, including $535,000 for restoration work on Cypress Island and Secret Harbor.  These funds will enable the Department of Natural Resources to increase the number of campsites well as renovate the Island’s loop trail and improve public safety.

Cypress Island was an alternate for grant funding through the competitive Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP).  Cypress Island has received over $13 million since 1990 for the protection of the island and the development of campgrounds, public access and trails.

“Public access is a rare commodity in the San Juans, and thanks to the legislature, these lands provide a pretty significant opportunity for folks that visit via kayak and private boat,” said Tim Seifert, executive director of the San Juan Preservation Trust, the non-profit land trust that operates throughout the San Juan Islands. “I can’t tell you how many people tell me that their one experience visiting the San Juans came when they joined a kayak outfitter in Anacortes and paddled to Cypress for an overnight at one of their Cypress campgrounds.”

“We are incredibly grateful for the leadership of Senator Ranker and Representatives Morris and Lytton for making this historic conservation effort possible,” said Joanna Grist, executive director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, which advocates for the grant program.  “Cypress Island, like many WWRP projects around the state, help maintain critical habitat for wildlife, protect our waterways and ensure that outdoor recreation can continue to be major source of income in communities across the state.”

Statewide, renewing WWRP funding is an essential investment in our long term prosperity because of the economic impact of tourism and outdoor recreation.  Outdoor recreation generates $8.5 billion in revenues annually to Washington’s economy and supports 115,000 jobs.

About the Coalition
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition is a non-profit citizens group founded in a historic bipartisan effort by former Governors Dan Evans and Mike Lowry.  The Coalition’s members consist of a diverse group of over 250 organizations representing conservation, business, recreation, hunting, fishing, farming and community interests. The breadth and diversity of the Coalition is the key to its success–no one member could secure such a high level of funding for parks and habitat on its own.

What We Do
The Coalition founded the WWRP grant program in 1989 to address the need to preserve more land for outdoor recreation and wildlife habitat. A state agency, the Recreation and Conservation Office, reviews, ranks, and distributes the grants through a competitive process that guarantees that only the best new park, habitat and farm projects are funded. The Coalition lobbies the Governor and the Legislature, which sets the funding level and approves the final list of projects.

The Coalition is also the chief advocate in Washington State for the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

What is the WWRP?
The WWRP (RCW 79A.15) is a state grant program funded from the capital construction budget that provides funding to protect habitat, preserve working farms and creates new local and state parks. Independent experts rank the applications based on criteria such as the benefits to the public, level of threat to the property or presence of threatened or endangered species.

What is the difference between the WWRP and the Coalition?
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition is the non-profit citizens group that serves as the watchdog and advocate for the WWRP grant program.  The WWRP is a state grant program funded by the Legislature and administered by the RCO. The Coalition receives no funding from the state. Its operations instead are entirely funded by the generous contributions of individuals, organizations and corporations.