OLYMPIA–The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office today announced the award of more than $2 million in grants to help diverse, urban neighborhoods and rural communities plan for outdoor recreation facilities.
The grants were awarded to 21 different organizations in 15 counties and ranged from $35,000 to $250,000. Many of the grants will help smaller communities write parks and recreation plans, which then can be used to apply for development grants, and some will help communities plan specific projects. For example, the communities of Mattawa, Oroville, Carbonado and Morton will use grants to develop park and open space plans. The Seattle Parks Foundation will use a grant to develop construction documents to transform an elementary school playground and field into a community recreation area while the City of Quincy will use a grant to redesign and add to its community’s athletic fields. The Spokane Tribe will use a grant to design the renovation of Snwx mene (Salmon People) Island, formally known as Canada Island, in Riverfront Park.
The Legislature funded the Planning for Recreation Access grant program in 2021 as a way to fund planning projects in communities that lack adequate access to outdoor recreation opportunities. The program focuses on diverse urban neighborhoods, small rural communities and those with less experience writing grants.
“The overwhelming number of applications we received speaks to the need for this kind of funding,” said Megan Duffy, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office. (RCO) “Many small and underfunded communities don’t have the resources to apply for grants. This funding will help them get started. Ultimately, we hope the planning leads to construction and we can increase the number of parks, trails, playgrounds and sports fields in places where there are currently few options for outdoor recreation.”
Of the 99 applicants, three-fourths hadn’t received recreation grants with RCO in the past decade, and nearly half hadn’t applied for an RCO grant during that time. The grants may be used to support planning, community engagement and collaboration between local governments, community-based organizations and residents to define outdoor recreation needs, prioritize investments to address those needs and prepare on-the-ground projects for funding opportunities.
Projects were funded in the counties below:
|Chelan County……………………. $86,000||Okanogan County……………… $108,350|
|Cowlitz County………………….. $250,000||Pierce County…………………….. $39,075|
|Douglas County………………….. $87,000||Skagit County…………………….. $45,000|
|Grant County……………………. $355,663||Skamania County………………. $250,000|
|King County……………………… $400,000||Spokane County…………………. $55,000|
|Klickitat County…………………… $50,000||Stevens County………………….. $95,000|
|Lewis County……………………… $75,550||Yakima County………………….. $168,172|
|Mason County…………………… $150,000|
In total, project proposals requested more than $12.5 million and fewer than one-fifth were funded.
“There are many communities in Washington where families don’t have access to nearby recreation areas or the areas are worn out and unusable,” Duffy said. “Everyone should be able to get to a park or outdoor area and receive the health benefits, both mental and physical, of spending time outside recreating. These grants are a first step in helping communities provide places to improve the well-being of their residents.”
The City of Chelan was awarded an $86,000 grant to develop a comprehensive plan that will guide the creation of its park system for years to come. The plan is meant to create a balanced park system that includes regional destination parks, high-quality local parks, biking and walking linkages between parks and other community centers, regional trail connections, conservation lands, recreation programming, and increased access to lakes at the ends of public roads that submerged with the construction of the Chelan Dam. The intention is that this plan would form a decision-making framework that additional planning efforts would supplement and update. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information about this project.
The Mount St. Helens Institute was awarded a $250,000 grant to design, engineer, and permit construction of a 40-site public campground expected to serve more than 5,000 visitors annually and improvements to hiking and mountain biking trails that provide access for fishing, boating, and picnicking at nearby Coldwater Lake. The work will expand recreational access to the Mount St. Helen’s Monument, a unique landscape surrounding a volcano. The campground and trails are scheduled to be built by the end of 2024. The campground and improved trail system are the first step in a larger vision to expand recreational access in the rural Toutle Valley of Cowlitz County. The institute and its partners plan to transform the former Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center into a lodge and educational center. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information about this project.
The City of Rock Island was awarded a $52,000 grant to create a planning document that is the first step in identifying potential routes to extend the regional Apple Capital Loop Trail 7 miles from Hydro Park to the city. Currently, people must walk on State Route 28 to reach the trail. The trail extension would connect residents of all ages and mobility to the waterfront, playgrounds, ball fields, and picnic areas. This project will result in development of a final planning document that would be used when applying for grants to identify a preferred route and ultimately construct the trail extension. The City is working in partnership with Trails Recreation Education Advocacy and Development (TREAD) and SCJ Alliance. This project will be part of a regional planning effort to connect trails in Douglas County and adjoining cities. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information about this project.
The Town of Waterville was awarded a $35,000 grant to complete a comprehensive parks and recreation plan with a focus on planning facilities for a multi‑use, non‑motorized trail on Badger Mountain, 3 miles south of town. The trail is in the only forested area in Douglas County. Biking, hiking, and snow recreation are top activities for the community, but there are few local resources for engaging in these activities. The Town will map the trail and develop design construction drawings, complete engineering, and acquire permits for an entrance and parking lot. Work will include outreach to recreation and bike groups, local tribes, government agencies, and education, conservation, and outdoor agencies. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information about this project.
The City of George was awarded a $59,000 grant to develop a parks and recreation plan that will be used for planning projects and applying for construction funding. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information about this project.
The City of Mattawa was awarded a $60,000 grant to develop a parks, recreation, and open space plan. This will be the first dedicated planning for recreation access since the city incorporated in 1958. The goal of this plan is to ensure that residents have adequate access to outdoor recreation. The plan will have five primary components: a vision for recreation access, an inventory of facilities and their conditions, a community outreach plan including an assessment of need, a level of service standard, and prioritized lists of parks, recreation, and open space improvements for the next 20 years. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information about project.
The City of Quincy was awarded a $236,663 grant to design 30 acres of sports fields next to Lauzier Park, the largest and most active park in the southwest section of the city. The new sports fields will replace softball and baseball fields in other parks for one designated and well-developed four-plex with restrooms, lights, and support facilities. The new park design also will include turning a large grass area into lighted soccer fields of different sizes. Soccer is played in Quincy nearly all year between youth and adult teams and leagues and more fields of different sizes will provide more access for these activities. The new park will have multiple parking lots, one of which will be next the established park to help alleviate current congestion. Putting similar fields together will open space in other parks for upgrades. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information about this project.
The City of Burien was awarded a $150,000 grant to develop a schematic design for Hilltop Park, an undeveloped, roughly 5-acre park in the northeast Boulevard Park neighborhood. The park serves a community where residents are 66 percent people of color, 21 percent below the poverty line, and in a flight path of SeaTac Airport. The community has been and will continue to be an integral partner in restoring the park and determining park improvements. The City will base the design on previously collected community priorities for the park and after learning the outcome of environmental studies, a topographic survey, and a geotechnical investigation. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information about this project.
The Seattle Parks Foundation was awarded a $250,000 grant to develop construction documents and get permits for a project that will transform the Concord International Elementary School playground and field into a community recreation area. The school is in the South Park neighborhood, which lacks greenspace. Residents there have access to just 40 square feet per person compared to the average 387 square feet across Seattle. The school’s playground mostly is paved and the playfield has drainage issues making it unusable for much of the year. The Greening Concord Steering Committee, made up of staff, school administrators, and community members, has worked with the Seattle Parks Foundation and other groups to reimagine the playfield as an asset that could be used by both the school and the community. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information about this project.
The Wishram School District was awarded a $50,000 grant to enhance the community’s only park and design an athletic field. The park’s current amenities include only a dirt lot, a half basketball court, and small play area. This small, impoverished community has no football, softball, baseball, or soccer fields. The school district will work with the community and a consultant to solicit community input on layout and design and develop site plans for the park and new field. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information about this project.
The City of Morton was awarded a $75,550 grant to develop a comprehensive parks and recreation plan that will be used for planning projects and applying for construction funding. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information about this project.
The Capitol Land Trust was awarded a $150,000 grant to plan development of the Bayshore Preserve in Mason County to accommodate recreational uses. The preserve is a 74-acre former golf course that was restored to a wildlife habitat area. The property has hosted outdoor field learning with the Shelton School District, Oakland Bay Days, and an annual salmon viewing program. However, the land trust has not been able to afford the costs of building the infrastructure needed to support the level of interest and use on the property. Needs include a parking lot designed to allow safe access for school buses, accessible trails and interpretive material, a covered structure, and viewing platforms. The land trust’s development plan will include outreach, planning, design, and permitting to bring these important recreational improvements closer to construction. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information about this project.
The Town of Elmer City was awarded a $68,350 grant to develop a comprehensive parks and recreation plan that will be used for planning projects and applying for construction funding. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information about this project.
The City of Oroville was awarded a $40,000 grant to develop a parks, recreation, and open space plan. The project will include an inventory and assessment of park assets, outreach to understand local demand and needs, and the development of a capital improvement plan. The City will partner with the nonprofit Oroville Initiative to lead the public engagement process, which will focus on in-person, community-building events. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information about this project.
The Town of Carbonado was awarded a $39,075 grant to create a new parks, recreation, and open space plan. The plan will include an assessment of park facilities and gaps in levels of service, identification of locations for new recreation and open space opportunities, and a list of projects. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information about this project.
The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community was awarded a $45,000 grant to turn a completed playground design into construction-ready plans for bidding. The Tribe has redesigned the playground at its early learning center, which in within easy walking distance of the Swinomish village center. The playground equipment is worn out, not appropriate for young kids, and creates a high risk for injury. When not used by kids, the space often hosts community events. The Tribe has completed the first stages of the project, including soliciting community input, designing the site, and demolishing the old equipment. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information about this project.
The Friends of the Columbia Gorge was awarded a $250,000 grant to create final designs for the Cape Horn Preserve in Skamania County. When developed, the preserve will include hiking trails, picnicking and gathering spaces, educational features, and viewpoints of the Columbia River Gorge. The friends steering committee has been working for more than year to improve accessibility and inclusion for people with a range of experiences, abilities, and native languages, and to improve protection and restoration of natural habitats in the preserve. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information about this project.
The Spokane Tribe, in partnership with the City of Spokane, was awarded a $55,000 grant to design the renovation of Snwx mene (Salmon People) Island, formally known as Canada Island, in Riverfront Park. The goals of the renovation are to provide a space for the community to learn about the traditions and culture of the Tribe, to reestablish the Tribe’s presence in Riverfront Park and downtown Spokane, and to complete a project by 2024, which is the 50th anniversary of Expo 74. The Tribe’s vision of the project is to reintroduce its members to the island and Spokane Falls area and to provide the community with historical tribal knowledge through educational and cultural activities. The redesigned island will include demonstration spaces, accessibility improvements, and landscape renovations to return the land to its native condition. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information about this project.
The City of Chewelah was awarded a $95,000 grant to engage its community in development of the city’s first parks, recreation, and open space master plan. Chewelah has never conducted a park planning process before. This project includes a feasibility study to assess the potential for creation of a regional park and recreation district centered in Chewelah. Expanding the recreational service area would provide more funding for construction and operations. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information about this project.
The City of Wapato was awarded a $92,850 grant to develop a comprehensive parks, recreation, and open space plan that will be used for planning projects and applying for construction funding. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information about this project.
The Yakima Greenway Foundation was awarded a $75,322 grant to update its master plan for the preservation and enhancement of trails, paths, and parks along the Naches and Yakima Rivers, ensuring the greenway remains a destination for recreation, nature, and community. The final plan will include an analysis of current conditions, equity, and high-need areas; mapping of access points, trail conditions, bicycle and pedestrian connections, and community destinations; trail planning; public engagement; and a prioritized list of projects. The Yakima Greenway is a critical piece of improving community wellness. Yakima County is among the least healthy counties in Washington with 26 percent of adults in poor or fair health, including elevated rates of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, mental distress, and deaths from suicide, overdoses, and alcoholism compared to other counties. Parks and pathways are a critical part of healthy communities. The greenway is busier than ever with 2,000 weekly visits to its trails and parks. With heavy usage, there is also a visible need to improve facilities, steward natural areas, and improve opportunities for community collaboration. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information about this project.