Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program projects released by State RCO office

June 23, 2011

Legislators reached across the aisle and worked together to save project in 2011 session: Spokane, Cheney, Newport receive funding

Olympia–The Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) released a complete list of projects funded through the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) at a hearing yesterday afternoon in Olympia. The projects were funded after legislators reached across party lines during the 2011 session to save the WWRP and the vital conservation projects the program funds in communities around the state.

Spokane County Parks will use a $1.63 million Antione Peak grant to protect elk and mule deer habitat and create hiking and mountain biking trails immediately outside the city.  Cheney Parks will use a $500,000 Betz Park Baseball/Softball Fields grant to create two ball fields for the community to use.  The City of Newport will use a $100,000 grant to provides a spray park to an area with no recreational water features for local children.

The RCO is the agency that approves and administers the WWRP grants.

Supporters of the WWRP around the state, including Governors Dan Evans and Mike Lowry have stepped forward to commend the legislature for working together to save the program, which not only contributes to the quality of life in Washington but also plays a critical role in our recreation economy.

“I want to applaud the House and Senate leadership, Democrats and Republicans alike, for coming together on this issue,” said Governor Dan Evans and founding co-chair of the Washington Wildlife And Recreation Coalition (WWRC), which advocates for the WWRP, with Governor Mike Lowry.  “Funding conservation projects is an important part of maintaining our heritage and way of life in Washington State.”

In addition to the $42 million the legislature approved, which funds more than 55 critical projects statewide, the legislature also ensured that the WWRP maintained it’s integrity, continuing to fund projects using a non-partisan, merit based criteria that has made the WWRP a successful and nationally recognized program.

“Twenty-two years ago, when we founded this coalition, we wanted to create a program that serves generations of Washingtonians to come.” added Governor Lowry. “I join communities around the state in thanking the legislature for these vital recreation and conservation projects which are so important to our quality of life and our economy.”

Projects funded by the WWRP will save hundreds of acres of land for outdoor recreation and wildlife habitat.   Renewing WWRP funding is an essential investment in the long-term prosperity of our state because of the number of jobs that outdoor recreation like fishing, hunting and hiking and more brings to our state.  Annually, parks and recreation-based activities generate some $8.5 billion in retail dollars and millions in tax dollars, supporting 115,000 jobs statewide.

“It was a long and difficult session, but in the end everyone worked together for a common good,”  said Joanna Grist, Executive Director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, which advocates for the WWRP.  “We are incredibly thankful that both the Senate and the House recognize not only the importance of funding conservation projects and maintaining our heritage, but also in maintaining the integrity of the WWRP.”

A complete list of projects is attached.

About the WWRC
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition (WWRC) is a non-profit citizens group founded in a historic bipartisan effort by former Governors Dan Evans and Mike Lowry.  Our members consist of a diverse group of over 250 organizations representing conservation, business, recreation, hunting, fishing, farming, and community interests. Our breadth and diversity is the key to our success–no one member of the Coalition could secure this 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.

About the RCO
The Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) is a small state agency that manages grant programs to create outdoor recreation opportunities, protect the best of the state’s wildlife habitat and farmland, and help return salmon from near extinction.  Questions about the RCO should go to Susan Zemek (360) 902-3081.

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.

What is the difference between the WWRP and the WWRC?
The WWRC, or 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—instead we rely entirely on the generous contributions of individuals, organizations, and corporations for our operation.

Web: http://wildliferecreation.org/aboutus
Twitter: http://twitter.com/WildlifeRec