Groups seek funding for recreation and conservation projects in 35 counties

Local communities are requesting funding for 349 projects to expand recreational areas and conserve wildlife habitat and working lands, the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board announced today.

The funding board evaluated and ranked the projects, which will continue to the Governor and state Legislature for funding consideration.

“The projects show huge support by every community and organization for investing in recreation and taking care of our wild areas,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office, which staffs the funding board and administers the grants. “We have hundreds of volunteers with experience in recreation and conservation evaluating the grant proposals and creating ranked lists. That vetting process means that the best projects rise to top of the list.”

In total, the projects are requesting more than $211 million. Here’s the breakdown: 179 projects are requesting $76.7 million for parks, 82 projects are requesting $76.8 million to conserve wildlife habitat and working farms and forests, 48 projects are requesting

$39.4 million for trails and 40 projects are requesting $18.9 million to give people access to the waterfront.

Below is a list of grant requests in each county.

Adams County……………………………….. $837,303
Asotin County………………………………… $260,000
Benton County……………………………. $3,064,442
Chelan County……………………………. $7,778,916
Clallam County……………………………. $6,602,315
Clark County……………………………….. $7,905,183
Columbia County…………………………… $155,000
Cowlitz County……………………………. $4,733,486
Douglas County…………………………….. $554,390
Ferry County……………………………….. $1,660,675
Franklin County………………………….. $1,381,365
Grant County………………………………….. $645,094
Grays Harbor County…………………… $3,535,136
Island County……………………………… $4,349,035
Jefferson County………………………… $6,150,557
King County………………………………. $32,446,022
Kitsap County……………………………. $13,426,253
Kittitas County…………………………….. $2,634,852
Klickitat County…………………………… $4,432,600
Lewis County………………………………. $2,929,222
Mason County…………………………….. $2,604,650
Okanogan County………………………. $8,990,909
Pacific County…………………………….. $4,133,155
Pierce County……………………………. $16,173,593
San Juan County………………………… $4,010,275
Skagit County……………………………… $2,275,588
Skamania County………………………….. $592,668
Snohomish County…………………… $17,805,756
Spokane County…………………………. $8,164,326
Stevens County……………………………… $495,000
Thurston County……………………….. $12,409,645
Walla Walla County………………………….. $784,500
Whatcom County………………………… $7,073,330
Whitman County…………………………. $5,746,328
Yakima County………………………….. $12,490,052
Multiple Counties………………………… $1,775,593

To see how each project scored, visit RCO’s Web site (https://www.rco.wa.gov/grants/eval_results.shtml).

The board accepts these grant applications every other year and added a new policy this year that makes funding more accessible for communities in need.

Sometimes all we need is a little silence to remember what really matters. Photo: Morf Morford

Sometimes all we need is a little silence to remember what really matters. Photo: Morf Morford

“We adjusted some of our scoring in two grant programs to prioritize projects in underserved and lower income communities or projects that promote healthy lifestyles in communities with certain poor health indicators,” Cottingham said. “We also reduced the matching resources that some communities must contribute to get grants. For example, communities with smaller populations or lower income populations will need to provide less when receiving grants.”

About 18 percent of the applicants were able to benefit from the new reduced match policy.

“Spending time outdoors is vital to the mental and physical health of both kids and adults,” Cottingham said. “The more parks and trails communities have, the more people exercise, and that is proven to reduce health care costs. Both exercise and exposure to nature also promote better mental health, and leave people feeling calm, relaxed and able to focus. Investments in outdoor recreation pay many dividends.”

Washingtonians spend $21.6 billion a year on everything from spandex to fly rods, supporting nearly 200,000 jobs.

“These investments benefit everyone,” Cottingham said. “The best time to invest in outdoor recreation is right now. Our population is growing, and land and development prices are going nowhere but up. Preserving and protecting natural areas conserves habitat for fish and other wildlife, protects clean air and water and reduces pollution.”

Funding comes through five different grant programs:

* Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account: Funded almost entirely by revenue generated by the state Department of Natural Resources’ management of state-owned aquatic lands, these grants are used to protect and enhance aquatic lands and provide public access to the waterfront.

* Boating Infrastructure Grant: Funding comes from a portion of the federal Aquatic Resources Trust Fund and is used to develop and renovate boating facilities targeting guest recreational boats 26 feet and larger. Grants also may be used for boater education.

* Land and Water Conservation Fund: Funded from a portion of federal revenue from selling and leasing off-shore oil and gas resources, these grants are used to preserve and develop outdoor recreation resources, including parks, trails and wildlife lands.

* Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program: The largest of the board’s grant programs, funding comes from the state’s sale of general obligation bonds. Grants can be used to build and improve parks, trails, ball fields and water access sites. Grants also fund the conservation of working farms and forests and wildlife habitat.

* Youth Athletic Facilities: Funded by the state’s sale of general obligation bonds, these grants are used to buy land and develop or renovate outdoor athletic facilities such as ball fields, courts, swimming pools and skate parks that serve youth.

- Washington, Recreation & Conservation Office

 

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.  John Muir