September 26, 2014

Thanks for celebrating 25 years with us!

How do we even begin to measure 25 years?

Well, you can start with more than $1.1 billion for conservation and outdoor recreation in Washington, 1,200 community supported projects, countless places preserved, restored, enhanced, and made accessible for all.

Those are all great reasons to celebrate! That’s why more 600 of our friends and supporters joined us at the Westin for breakfast this past Tuesday.

It was a morning to reflect on our success, and the great work that’s left to be done. Governor Jay Inslee announced the results of his Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation that will outline the state’s priorities for our great outdoors.

Funding for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program is listed as one of the 12 action items in the final Blue Ribbon Task Force report.

The Coalition is requesting Governor Inslee’s support for $97 million for the WWRP to reflect growing need and maximize economic benefits of the outdoors.

“We know that the outdoors don’t have just an environmental and recreation significance in our state,” said Governor Inslee. “This is a $22 billion sector in our economy.”

The outdoor recreation economy supports 227,000 jobs in Washington alone and acts as a significant quality-of-life attractor for highly-skilled workers in fields like tech and aerospace, but we have work to do to preserve those incredible resources for the future.

Richard Wynne, a committed Coalition board member and director of business strategy at Boeing said, “The population of our region is only expected to grow, and with it, demand for more parks, more trails, more wild space, and more local food will just continue to increase. That means the Coalition’s work is more necessary than ever before.”

 Kim Noah of the Port of Camas-Washougal and Renee Tkach of the Gorge Towns to Trails project spoke of their community’s need for increased funding for the WWRP and Land and Water Conservation Fund for the Washougal Waterfront Trail, an opportunity to revitalize the local economy by increasing quality of life and attracting visitors as a gateway to the Columbia River Gorge.

The attendees comprised businesses like REI and Washington Realtors as well as conservation groups like The Nature Conservancy and Forterra.

We were overjoyed to recognize Bill Robinson as this year’s Joan Thomas Award recipient in recognition of his years of dedicated work to protect and enhance the state’s great outdoors. (Read an in depth profile of Bill at the Nature Conservancy’s website.)

For the occasion, Commissioner of State Lands Peter Goldmark said, “Bill Robinson is one of the smartest and most effective voices for conservation in our state. He has worked tirelessly to promote funding for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, as well as many other critical conservation efforts, ensuring that we leave future generations a landscape that retains the wildness which feeds our souls and draws many of us to this beautiful state.“

Thanks to all our members who celebrated with us!