State money is pouring into Spokane-area recreation projects after lawmakers approved more than $5 million in grants and funding this year.
“I think grant funding wise it was a pretty good year,” said county park planner Paul Knowles. “All the applications we submitted were funded with the exception of maybe one.”
Spokane County received roughly $2.5 million in grant funding.
The Legislature awarded the county $2 million, in two separate grants, to partially reimburse the purchase of the Sisters of the Holy Names property. The 31-acres along the Spokane River has about 4,500 feet of shoreline. In 2016 the land was purchased for about $2.6 million.
“It’s a great project and obviously both grant applications were funded so clearly that project had merit,” Knowles said.
The Sisters of the Holy Names property was purchased using county Conservation Futures money and is owned and managed by the Spokane Parks Department.
The county also received $106,000 to develop a 14-mile trail system on the Mica Peak Conservation area, Knowles said. Trail work on that project is slated to start in May. In addition to new trails that money will also fund some habitat restoration.
Bidwell Park, off Hatch Road, also received state money funded. Currently, only 5 acres of the park are developed, Knowles said. The $500,000 received from the state will fund installing turf, trees, path improvements and the construction of a softball field and multipurpose field. The County Commissioners have pledged $781,000 to the project which will cost $1.28 million. Knowles expects work to start in 2018 and finish in 2019.
Spokane Parks and Recreation also received funding for some long-planned projects.
City councilwoman Candace Mumm, who is the chair of the council’s legislative team, said this year’s level of state funding was higher than past years.
“I think it shows some great support for Spokane and Spokane’s recreation,” Mumm said. “Many of these properties have been unfunded or really at risk of development or not being cared for.”
The South Gorge Trail received $1,052,000 from three different state funding sources in 2018, Mumm said.
“In my opinion, to receive funding from three programs confirms how much support exists to improve the public’s access and enjoyment of the Spokane River,” she said in an email.
A boat launch will be built at Glover Field in 2018, using long neglected Department of Commerce funds.
Additionally the city received $2 million from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, and elsewhere, for the Three Islands project. Under the terms of the project the city would buy 31 acres, including more than three-quarter miles of shoreline.
The city also received $227,000 in funding for the southeast Youth Sports Complex Neighborhood Park.
“All of the local Spokane-area legislators were supportive of the projects listed above, with Sen. Billig and Rep. Riccelli deserving particular praise for their strong support of the city’s priority capital budget items,” Mumm said in an email.
At the state level the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife received roughly $5 million for thinning and burning on the 200,000 acres of forests in WDFW wildlife areas. That was funded by the Legislature in the 2017-19 capital budget.
Seven of the states 32 wildlife areas are in Region 1, which contains Spokane.
In total WDFW received $57 million for projects and an additional $17 million in grants.
That includes the $5 million for forest health, more than $20 million for fish hatchery infrastructure improvements, $6 million for habitat restoration work and $11 million for minor projects statewide, according to WDFWs Legislative update.