The board awards about $200 million in grants statewide every year for the development of parks, trails, boating and other outdoor recreation facilities; farmland preservation; and habitat conservation.
“We’re very excited to welcome Mr. Willhite to the funding board,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office, which supports the board in its work. “His extensive knowledge of environmental issues, trail use, boating and other outdoor activities makes him an excellent choice for helping determine how to best invest in Washington’s great outdoors. He also has the perspectives of rural and urban living, and eastern and western Washington.”
Willhite is a trial lawyer with 40 years of experience in the civil justice system. He is active in community groups such as the Methow Valley Community Center, the Methow Valley Food Bank, the Native Plant Society (Okanogan Chapter) and the Methow Conservancy. He also has served on the Washington State Oil Spill Advisory Committee and been active in the Alaska Wilderness League, the Nature Conservancy, the Washington Trails Association, the Olympic Coast Alliance, and the Pacific Crest Trail Association.
Willhite has skied, hiked, climbed, biked, sailed, kayaked and/or dived on every continent. He and his wife recently completed hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. He received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Whitman College and his law degree from the University of Washington.
Since 1964, the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board has awarded more than $1 billion for more than 5,000 projects in every county of the state. The grants have leveraged nearly $735 million in local contributions, bringing the total investment to more than $1.7 billion in Washington’s great outdoors.