House budget funds diversity of conservation, recreation, and farmland preservation projects
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, which brings together 280 businesses and non-profits, applauds the state House’s capital construction budget. The budget announced today includes $75 million in funding for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) and preserves the integrity of the program. The WWRP is the state’s premiere conservation and recreation program. It is the largest source of funding for local parks and trails and the only Washington state program that preserves farmland. WWRP funded projects have also done more to protect and restore Puget Sound than any other program.
“This budget proves that investments in conservation, recreation and farmland projects are not a partisan issue,” said Joe Mentor, Board President of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition. “WWRP grants promote quality of life and an economic engine that draws people to our state from across the world. We’re very happy that Republicans and Democrats came together today to support this program.”
“Today’s House capital budget shows a real commitment to protecting our state’s wonderful natural heritage and the nearly 200,000 outdoor recreation jobs that depend on it,” said Joanna Grist, executive director of the Washington Wildlife & Recreation Coalition. “As the Senate works to produce its budget, we need them to demonstrate the same commitment to our local parks, farms, forests and waterways.”
Governor Inslee’s capital budget proposed $70 million for the WWRP. The House budget, at $75 million for WWRP, moves closer to the $97 million requested by the Coalition. Both the Governor and the House protect the integrity of the program by relying on a nationally-recognized impartial ranking process and not altering the list or order of projects, ensuring that funds are used fairly and for the best projects.
The House budget would fund 89 projects across the state, including:
- Acquisition of 100 acres of pristine coastline in Dabob Bay, providing access to the public for research, recreation and education
- New trail development along the Methow River in Twisp
- Expansion of day use facilities at Kukutali Preserve to include new trails, picnic areas and other facilities
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.
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 promotes public funding for Washington’s outdoors through the state Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program and the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. Members consist of a diverse group of over 280 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.