TRAILS — The state budget approved during the special session of the Washington Legislature provides strong funding — $65 million — for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, which in turn funds grants to critically approved projects across the state.
Bids for projects involving the Spokane Centennial Trail and Spokane County Conservation Futures are among the 88 projects the WWRP has approved. Now that fundng is in the budget, some excellent recreation and wildlife projects will be allowed to go forward.
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.
“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.”
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.
The Coalition’s members consist of a diverse group of about 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 their own.