OLYMPIA – The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Funding Board today announced grant awards worth more than $8 million to preserve valuable farmland, tackle off-road vehicle noise enforcement and improve community athletic fields throughout the state.
The board, which was created in 1964 to finance recreation and conservation projects statewide, awarded grants to 53 projects in 22 counties. The projects ranged from buying equipment to measure off-road vehicle noise to lighting ball fields to protecting some of the state’s most valuable farmland.
“We are taking steps to save some of Washington’s most valuable farmland,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers these grant programs. “Since 1950, the number of farms in Washington has decreased by more than 50 percent and the acres of farmland has dropped by 17 percent. These grants are one step in helping to preserve the remaining farms.”
This is the second time the board has awarded grants to protect farmland. In 2007, the board awarded 10 grants totaling nearly $4.4 million. Today, the board announced grants to 10 projects for more than $4.7 million. The funding comes through the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, which was created by the Legislature in 1990 to protect land from development, and to develop recreation areas for a growing population.
The board also announced awards of 33 grants for improving or building new community athletic fields totaling more than $3 million. Funding for these projects comes from the Youth Athletic Facilities grant program, which was created through a referendum that provided public financing for the Seahawks’ stadium.
In a third category, the board awarded 10 grants to government agencies for off-road vehicle noise enforcement totaling more than $313,000. The funding comes from gas taxes and off-road vehicle fees through the Nonhighway and Off-Road Vehicle Activities (NOVA) program. “Washington has a wealth of outdoor recreational areas,” Cottingham said. “These grants help us take care of and expand those resources.”
Grants were awarded to organizations in the following counties. Details on each grant.
|Asotin County $114,476
Benton County $137,500
Chelan County $49,155
Clark County $150,000
Cowlitz County $150,000
Ferry County $10,000
Grant County $13,540
Grays Harbor County $60,938
Island County $1,325,000
Jefferson County $546,737
King County $1,225,000
Kitsap County $250,000
Grant applicants not only must compete on the technical merits of their projects, but they also must bring additional resources to the table.
“Asking local communities to contribute to a project helps ensure the board is funding only the best, most needed projects,” Cottingham said. “It means those projects brought to the board are important to the communities.”
Grant applicants will contribute more than $17.7 million in matching funds and resources, making the total investment in Washington’s great outdoors more than $25.8 million.
A summary of the grant programs and information about the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board is available online at www.rco.wa.gov.