OLYMPIA–The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Funding Board today announced the award of more than $126 million in grants to a suite of 333 projects that build and maintain outdoor recreation facilities and conserve wildlife habitat and working farms and forests around the state.
“Not only do these grants support our state’s parks, forests and farms, but they also fuel a powerful outdoor recreation economy that puts about 200,000 people to work and generates more than $26 billion in spending every year,” Governor Jay Inslee said. “At a time when public lands are more and more at risk of being developed or lost altogether, these grants prioritize our outdoor spaces so that current and future generations can continue to enjoy and protect them.”
“The funding creates more places to play, expands habitat for fish and other wildlife, supports clean air and water, and upholds healthy communities across Washington state and improves our quality of life,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director at the Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers the grants.
“As one of the state’s biggest investors in the outdoors, the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board has had a part in thousands of projects across Washington state, from the park down the street to backcountry campsites and other destinations,” said Ted Willhite, chair of the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board. “It’s part of what makes Washington such a great place to live and play.”
With the Legislature’s recent approval of the capital budget, grants are being distributed to cities, counties, state and federal agencies, tribal governments, and nonprofit organizations for projects in 37 of the state’s 39 counties.
The grants were awarded through seven different grant programs. Revenue comes from a mix of federal grants, the sale of state bonds, gas taxes and user fees.
Click below to see descriptions of each grant.
All of the funded projects were evaluated and ranked through a competitive process in which citizen committees with expertise in recreation and conservation issues evaluated the grant proposals and created ranked lists for the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board to consider for funding.
“Because we have funding for only about half of the applications that come in, we have to be strategic with our investments, selecting only the best projects,” Cottingham said.
The office accepted applications for 562 projects, requesting nearly $232 million. Most of the grant programs require grant applicants to contribute matching resources. This year, the matching resources totaled nearly $142 million, more than doubling the state’s investment in Washington’s outdoor recreation and conservation efforts.
Of the more than $126 million in grants, more than $47 million goes to build or improve parks, more than $16 million goes each to improve facilities for boaters, $20 million to maintain trails, more than $5 million goes to conserve working farms and another $36 million goes to protect important wildlife habitat.
About the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board
Established by citizen Initiative 215 in 1964, the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board helps finance recreation and conservation projects throughout the state. The eight-member board consists of five citizens appointed by the Governor and three state agency directors.
Since 1964, the board has improved the state's quality of life through its investment of public funds in parks, trails, beaches, boating facilities, wildlife habitat and natural areas.