OLYMPIA – The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Funding Board approved grants for projects across the state to build parks and trails, and protect disappearing farmland and wildlife habitat.
On Thursday, the state funding board approved grants for 106 projects in 28 of the state’s 39 counties to be funded, the last step in a two-year grant process.
“This funding helps local communities create or maintain jobs as well as invest in places for people to exercise or spend time with families and friends,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers the grants. “The funding also helps local communities protect valuable wildlife habitat and maintain farmland, which keep Washington a top place to live and work. The grants are a key investment in Washington’s great outdoors.”
Projects in the following counties were awarded grants. Project descriptions.
Benton County........................... $791,125
Kittitas County......................... $1,045,019
The projects were seeking funding under two grant programs: the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, which was created by the legislature in 1990 in response to increasing public demand for outdoor recreation land and growing concerns about loss of wildlife habitat, and the Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account, which was created by the legislature in 1984 to ensure that money generated from waterfront lands and the beds of rivers and lakes was used to protect and enhance those lands.
The board received 291 grant applications requesting more than $221 million. The grants were evaluated by panels of experts against a dozen different criteria, ranging from the need for a project, to its cost-effectiveness, to how well it was designed, to the level of demonstrated community support. Funding was awarded to only 36 percent of the projects because of limited funding.
“We are seeing a significant need,” Cottingham said. “As communities struggle with tighter budgets, these grant funds become more important. Without this money, city and county park departments would not be able to develop their local parks or protect open spaces that keep their communities desirable places for citizens and businesses.”
But they don’t come empty handed. Grants applicants are offering nearly $58 million in matching resources.
“The local contributions help the state stretch its limited dollars even further,” Cottingham said.
The Recreation and Conservation Funding Board was established in 1964 by voters to finance recreation and conservation projects throughout the state.