House, Senate unite for strong funding for Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program
OLYMPIA- Less than two days before the end of the second special session, state legislators passed the capital construction budget, which includes $65 million for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP). This will fund 86 projects across the state, creating and improving local parks and trails, protecting working farms, and preserving wildlife habitat.
In addition to providing funding for these critical projects, the legislature also maintained the WWRP’s integrity, continuing to fund projects using a merit based ranking system that has made the WWRP a successful and nationally recognized program.
A complete list of funded and partially funded projects is available here (PDF).
The legislature also maintained the WWRP’s integrity, continuing to fund projects using a merit based ranking system that has made the WWRP a successful and nationally recognized program.
“Preserving critical habitat through the WWRP means all sportsmen and women will continue to have access to the outdoors,” said Barry Nilson of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. “Hunters, anglers, and others will continue to see healthy wildlife populations and recreational opportunities across our great state. We hope to bring public access to even more outdoor enthusiasts in the next biennium.”
According to the Congressional Sportsmen Association, Washington hunters directly support nearly 6,000 jobs and generate $301 million in retail revenue annually.
“Washington State’s natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities help attract and retain great businesses,” said Mark Eliasen, Vice President of Finance and Treasurer for the Alaska Air Group. “This year’s strong funding for the WWRP is a victory for the workers and the companies that work together to keep Washington’s economy strong.”
Projects funded by the WWRP will protect wildlife habitat, create new opportunities for outdoor recreation, and keep farms working across the state.
Renewing WWRP funding is an essential investment in the state’s long-term economic prosperity because of the number of jobs that outdoor activities like fishing, hunting and hiking and more create and support. Annually, parks and recreation-based activities generate $22.5 billion in retail dollars and $1.6 billion in state and local tax revenue, supporting 227,000 jobs statewide.
“We are incredibly thankful to both the House and the Senate for recognizing the importance of funding conservation and recreation to protect our natural heritage and create local jobs,” said Joanna Grist, Executive Director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, which advocates for the WWRP. “The legislature was able to do all this while preserving the program’s award-winning ranking system that has made the WWRP successful for more than two decades.”
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 are instead entirely funded by the generous contributions of individuals, organizations, and corporations.
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 their own.
What We Do
The Coalition founded the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (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 or RCO, 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 Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (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.