State awards more than $2.6 Million in grants for parks and trails

The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office announced the award of more than $2.6 million to 26 projects to build parks and trails around the state.

“The best time to invest in outdoor recreation is right now,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office. “Our population is growing and there is a need to create and improve places for people to recreate. It just makes sense to invest in outdoor recreation, which has so many other benefits.”

A recent study noted that outdoor recreation contributes to Washington’s economy: $21.6 billion is spent in Washington on recreation trips and equipment annually and $4.6 billion comes from out-of-state visitors. Outdoor recreation also supports nearly 200,000 jobs, rivaling the technology and aerospace industries.

“In addition, spending time outdoors is vital to the mental and physical health of kids and adults,” Cottingham said. “We know that nature can improve our health, decrease our stress, ease mental illnesses, promote physical exercise and increase our social interactions. These grants put money into improving people’s access to nature.”

The grants are funded through two different federal grant programs – the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Recreational Trails Program. All of the projects were evaluated and ranked through a competitive process in which committees made up of Washington residents with expertise in recreation and conservation issues evaluated the projects and created ranked lists for funding consideration by the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board.

“There’s a lot of great work being done around the state,” Cottingham said. “It’s part of what makes Washington a great state for business to locate and families to live. We have some fantastic outdoor places where you can take a walk, relax, camp, fish and hunt, ski and so much more. Without this funding, many communities simply couldn’t afford to build or maintain these opportunities.”

- Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office