OLYMPIA – The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Funding Board has awarded more than $110 million to 268 projects to build parks and boating facilities, give people access to shorelines, maintain trails and conserve working farms and critical wildlife habitat.
“These grants are important to our economy because they help local communities create the kinds of places that people want to live and work, and tourists want to visit,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “Washington’s outdoor recreation industry is as important to our economy as our technology and aerospace industries. Making sure we take good care of our outdoor places is important to many businesses and families in this state.”
A recent study noted that $21.6 billion is spent in Washington on recreation trips and equipment annually and $4.6 billion comes from out-of-state visitors. Outdoor recreation also supports nearly 200,000 jobs, rivaling the technology and aerospace industries.
“These grants are an important investment in our future,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers the grants. “They support three important goals of the State – to get people, especially our kids, outside more often to experience nature, to expand parks and to conserve our environment. It’s a win all the way around.”
These grants were awarded through seven different grant programs. Funding was provided by the Legislature in the recently enacted capital budget and by Congress with revenue coming from a mix of federal grants, the sale of state bonds, gas taxes and user fees.
The grants will be given to cities, counties, state and federal agencies, tribes and non-profit organizations for projects in 37 of the state’s 39 counties.
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 projects and created ranked lists for funding consideration by the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board, and in some cases, the Governor and state Legislature.
“Overall, we have funding only for about half the demand,” Cottingham said. “The process ensures that only the best projects rise to the top and receive funding.”
The office accepted applications for 463 projects, requesting nearly $203 million. Most of the grant programs require grant applicants to contribute matching resources. This year, the matching resources totaled more than $107 million, nearly doubling the state’s investment in Washington’s outdoor recreation and conservation efforts.
Of the $110 million in grants, nearly $32 million goes to build or improve parks, nearly $12 million to improve facilities for boaters, about $26 million to maintaining trails, $4 million to conserving working farms and another $27 million to protecting important wildlife habitat.
Click below for descriptions of each grant awarded in the following counties: