The national Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) recently released a report on state programs that support outdoor recreation. The report featured case studies of seven states across the country, including Washington, that are innovative leaders in funding outdoor recreation and conservation. Of the state programs featured, the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) was highlighted as “one of the oldest and most successful in the United States,” with the Coalition cited as a key driver to its success.
The report detailed several important factors to the success of the WWRP and how it can be a model for other states. First, a broad and diverse coalition is key to Washington’s success—the melding of unique and disparate interest groups presents a unified voice for the WWRP to the state legislature, which enhances the power of each individual voice many times over. This finding speaks to the heart of the Coalition’s mission—to ensure robust funding for Washington’s great outdoors by unifying disparate voices through education and advocacy.
Collaboration and citizen engagement were also cited as central to the long term success of the WWRP. From the program’s creation to applying for grants to lobbying for funding, ample opportunities for citizen involvement add fairness and transparency to the process. As a result, the WWRP has leveraged $745 million for outdoor recreation projects since 1991.
Those funds are sorely needed. According to the OIA, 72% of Washingtonians participate in outdoor recreation each year and generate an impressive $26.2 billion in consumer spending.
Especially in recent years, as federal funding for outdoor recreation becomes less certain, creative state-level funding opportunities like the WWRP have become essential to the health of America’s great outdoors. Programs like the WWRP are critical to developing new campgrounds and trails, preserving wildlife habitat, and ultimately creating healthier communities and stronger economies.
Read the report here.