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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

House cuts 15 wildlife recreation projects from budget

From staff reports

State lawmakers have recommended $80 million for the Washington Wildlife & Recreation Programs, but the recently released House capital construction budget cuts what program directors say are important acquisition projects for critical habitat and natural areas.

About half of the eliminated projects involve West Side areas and half on the East Side, especially in Klickitat, Chelan and Yakima county areas. The 15 projects are geared to protection of wildlife habitat and recreational access for boaters hunters, anglers, wildlife viewers, and hikers.

One critical habitat area identified by a diverse panel would protect another portion of Grand Coulee in Douglas County.

“It is distressing that the House has chosen to depart from the program’s objective, expert-driven evaluation process that has been the hallmark of the WWRP since its creation in 1989,” said Coalition Board Chair Deborah Jensen.

“And it is disappointing that they would do so after a significant bipartisan effort succeeded in updating the WWRP last year to address legislators’ stated concerns with the program.”

WWRP is the state’s major grant program for recreation and conservation, and has leveraged $1.3 billion in public funding for more than 1,200 projects. The program was modernized in 2016 to increase funding levels for renovation, development, and restoration of state-owned conservation lands.

The House’s proposal also eliminates the highly ranked Mt. Adams Klickitat Canyon Phase II habitat protection and public assess project.