OLYMPIA–The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) will begin accepting applications Aug. 10 for grants to provide outdoor education and recreation programs for kids and to build and maintain trails, boating facilities, and firearm and archery ranges.
RCO is offering free, online workshops to showcase these grant opportunities and explain application requirements.
RCO grants for boating, trails, and shooting ranges are the largest source of state funding for many of these outdoor recreation experiences. This is the only opportunity to apply for these grants until 2024.
“We’re very excited to offer all of these grants but especially the grants for getting kids outside,” said Megan Duffy, RCO’s director. “Spending time outside provides so many benefits. We know it can ease stress, improve mental and physical health and even improve children’s academic performance. These grants help ensure that kids get a chance to spend time outside and receive those benefits.”
New this year is the Outdoor Learning Grants program. The Legislature provided funding to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to support kids getting outside and learning about the outside while there. The grants will cover outdoor education for kids in pre-school through high school. RCO is administering the grant program jointly with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and grant awards will be made in early October for the 2022-23 school year. This new program compliments grants offered in the No Child Left Inside program, which is managed jointly with the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.
“All of these grants are essential for making sure Washington remains a destination for outdoor recreation,” Duffy said. “These grants are key to providing great places for people to enjoy their favorite outdoor activities and to helping Washington’s economy stay strong.”
A recent RCO study showed that people spend more than $26 billion on outdoor recreation trips and equipment in Washington annually, supporting 264,000 jobs.
RCO will accept grant proposals for the following types of projects:
- Boating–Buy land and develop and renovate facilities for motorized boats and other watercraft, including launching ramps, guest moorage, and support facilities. Register for the Aug. 10 Webinar, which begins at 10 a.m.
- Trails–Develop, rehabilitate, and maintain trails that provide a backcountry experience. Funding also may be used for education and enforcement programs that encourage environmentally responsible use of the trails and help minimize conflict between visitors. Register for the Aug. 10 Webinar, which begins at 11 a.m. More information online at Non-highway and Off-road Vehicle trails, Non-highway and Off-road Vehicle trails education grants, and Recreational Trails Program.
- Firearm and archery ranges–Buy land and develop and renovate firearm ranges and archery training and practice facilities. Register for the Aug. 10 Webinar, which begins at 9 a.m.
- Youth Outdoor Education and Recreation–Provide outdoor environmental, ecological, agricultural, or other natural resource-based education and recreation programs for children in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Funding focuses on serving youth with the greatest needs. Register for the Aug. 10 Webinar, which begins at 1 p.m. More information online at No Child Left Inside and the Outdoor Learning Grants.
Grant applications are due Sept. 1 for the Outdoor Learning Program and Nov. 1 for the other programs. More information about the grant requirements is available RCO’s Web site.
Planning for Recreation Access Grants Coming this Fall
RCO will be offering another new grant program in the fall, with applications due in October. The Planning for Recreation Access grants will provide funding for planning projects in communities that lack adequate access to outdoor recreation opportunities. 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 RCO and other funding opportunities. Visit the Web page and sign up for e-mail notifications.