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Washington State cuts Recreation Funding

Trip date: 05/04/2009
Reported by: Jeff Lambert

Washington State Legislative Update

WWRP FUNDS CUT TO $70 MILLION: The Washington State legislature passed the final capital budget funding the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) at $70 million for the 2009-2010 biennium compared to $100 Million for 2007-2009. The WWRP is a state grant program that funds urban parks, trails, wildlife habitat and farmland preservation projects.

The funded projects include these important local projects:
08-1334A Antoine Peak Acquisition Phase 2 Spokane County Parks & Rec $1,674,450
08-1332D Centennial Trail Realignment at Gateway Park Spokane County Parks & Rec $197,974
08-1630C Rocky Hill Park City of Liberty Lake $503,500
08-1698C Historic Iron Bridge Renovation City of Spokane $530,000

The following Spokane County projects were not funded:
08-1335A Antoine Peak Acquisition Phase 3 Spokane County Parks & Rec $0
(Note Phase 3 scored well-enough to receive over $1,000,000 of funding but given the funding for Phase 2 apparently an agreement was reached to not fund Phase 3 this time.)
08-1309D Phase II - Greenacres Park Development City of Spokane Valley as Alternate
08-1539D Sunset Crossing Park Development City of Airway Heights as Alternate
08-2074A Latah Creek Riparian Preservation City of Spokane as Alternate

In the current economic climate, $70 million for the WWRP is a success. The grants are fairly distributed around the state serving urban parks, recreation and wildlife habitat.  All of the unfunded projects can be considered in the next round of funding.

NOVA PROGRAM is NOT FUNDED: The Nonhighway and Off-Road Vehicle Activities (NOVA) grant program funds a wide variety of ORV, hiking, equestrian, mountain biking, hunting, fishing, sight-seeing and nature study opportunities along with a strong education and enforcement component. Due to the current economic crisis, and for the first time since the program started in 1971, the budget passed by the Legislature redirects the upcoming biennium’s (2009-2011) NOVA funds to other purposes.  The Dept of Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife and Parks get a direct allocation – as usual along with a large amount to the Recreation and Conservation Office to maintain the administration offices. All funding for local projects has been diverted. Even the license fees paid by ATVers that were intended to support trails and support facilities was diverted. The funding has supported many local projects such as the 7 Mile ORV Park and the Airway Heights motorcycle track, Spokane County Sheriff’s Parks rangers, the Centennial Trail west extension planning and several projects in the Colville National Forest. This program is not well known but broadly funds recreation across the state. We hope to obtain funding for the NOVA program in the future.

MT SPOKANE LODGE FUNDED: We understand that the Mt. Spokane Ski Lodge received $2.5 Million from the State Legislature. The Mountaineers support improvements to the ski area but hope that there is a requirement for a Environmental Learning Center as part of the facility.

Federal Stimulus to Forests: On a similar note, a total of more than 145 Million has been allocated to National Forests in Washington and Oregon for forest thinning, road closure, stream restoration and trail maintenance. Oregon will get more than $100 Million and Washington is in line for about $27 million, according to the tentative allocation. An additional $18 million will be split between the two states. The project list is expected to be finalized in coming weeks, and the total amount allocated to the Northwest may grow.

Jeff Lambert