Governor Jay Inslee today announced the award of $86 million in state and federal grants that will build parks and boating facilities, maintain backcountry trails and off-road vehicle access, improve the safety of archery and firearm ranges, conserve farmland and protect wildlife habitat.
The grants, which are awarded through the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Funding Board, will be given to cities, counties, state and federal agencies, tribes and non-profit organizations for work in 34 of the state’s 39 counties.
“Washington’s outdoors are one of the things that make this state great,” said Gov. Inslee. “Outdoor recreation in Washington contributes more than $11.7 billion annually to our economy, supports 115,000 jobs across the state, draws people from around the world to our mountain tops and shorelines, and is one of the reasons people and businesses move here and stay here. Investing in Washington’s outdoor economy just makes good sense.”
The grants are funded through eight different grant programs that receive money from state and federal sources, including the sale of state bonds, gas taxes, and user fees. The Legislature authorizes funding for all the grants.
Before they are selected for funding, grant proposals go through an extensive review that includes evaluation by advisory committees made up of citizens with experience in recreation, farming, and wildlife habitat.
“Our rigorous process ensures, that we fund only the best of the best projects,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office, which supports the board and administers the grants. Generally, only about half of the grant requests are funded. This year, 414 projects requested more than $163 million in funding.
“Everyone in Washington benefits when we invest in the state’s outdoor places,” Cottingham said. “Businesses have healthy natural resources to use and attract top notch employees, our residents have places to exercise and spend time with their families and friends, we have cleaner air and water and our wildlife have places to live.”
“These grants go a long way in helping cities, towns, and others develop their communities to be great places to live and work,” said Harriet Spanel, acting chair of the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board. “While many of these grants are small, they are absolutely necessary to maintain what we have and make sure Washington continues to provide fantastic outdoors places for our people today and for our children.”
Here are some examples of what these grants will pay for:
· Developing the final half-mile of a 7-mile waterfront trail from downtown Tacoma to the nationally renowned Point Defiance Park. This missing link is the culmination of a decades-old dream to complete the trail. It will link the highly popular Ruston Way promenade, the Point Ruston development, the town of Ruston, the city of Tacoma, Point Defiance Park, and the future 11-acre waterfront park on the peninsula.
· Rebuilding the boat launch at Lake Chelan State Park, which sees 254,000 visitors a year. State Parks will reconstruct the boat ramp, add a second launch ramp, two handling docks, and additional moorage docks at the park, which is the primary boat launching site on the south shore of Lake Chelan.
· Maintaining 350 miles of hiking trails in the Cascade and Olympic Mountains, and in eastern Washington. The trails are used by more than 1.2 million hikers, horse riders and mountain bikers.
· Conserving nearly 54 acres of a regionally and internationally important farmland near La Conner that also provides critical winter feeding areas for migratory birds including snow geese, raptors, shorebirds and swans.
Click below for descriptions of each grant awarded in the following counties:
Grant recipients match the funding with resources of their own. In total, grant recipients will contribute nearly $57 million in matching resources, making the state and federal dollars stretch further.
The Recreation and Conservation Funding Board was established in 1964 to finance recreation and conservation projects throughout the state. Information about the agency is available online at www.rco.wa.gov.