THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON WILDLIFE & RECREATION COALITION
Today, Governor Inslee released his budget, which includes $115 million in funding for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP). His proposal is a huge step toward meeting the outdoor recreation and conservation needs of our growing state. The WWRP, funded through the capital construction budget, is the state’s premier grant program for habitat conservation and outdoor recreation opportunities. The program has played a significant role in our state’s landscape and quality of life, investing over $1.4 billion into state and local parks, trails, wildlife habitat, working lands, and other community priorities across the state.
“In funding the WWRP at $115 million, Governor Inslee has set a legacy level for this critical program,” said Christine Mahler, Executive Director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition. “The Governor recognizes our beautiful places will be lost for the next generation if we don’t act now. A true champion of Washington’s outdoors, he recognizes the importance of this program to communities from Chehalis to the Colville Reservation. The Legislature should, at minimum, match the Governor’s level for the WWRP.”
Robust funding for the WWRP is more important than ever as our state’s population growth has accelerated in recent years. WWRP projects mitigate the impacts of rapid population growth, create outdoor opportunities for families across the state, preserve wildlife habitat, and protect working lands.
The WWRP does all this while also investing in our economy and fueling job growth. Outdoor recreational lands generate more than $26.2 billion in consumer spending annually and help support 201,000 jobs in our state. Additionally, WWRP projects simultaneously address numerous other state priorities, including mental and physical health, childhood development and school performance, and salmon and orca recovery.
This year alone, over 120 different local, state, tribal, and non-profit groups from across the state submitted 273 applications for funding in the next biennium. The Coalition is collecting signatures from across the state in support of $130 million for the WWRP. More than 100 organizations and opinion leaders and over 800 individuals have signed the letter of support to date, demonstrating how important this program is to Washingtonians across our beautiful state.
With the start of the legislative session approaching, we respectfully urge the Legislature to fund this vital program at $130 million. In doing so, they will support our state’s growing recreation economy, fulfill local community needs, and preserve Washington’s natural heritage for future generations.
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