OLYMPIA – The state has begun accepting grant applications to build parks, trails boating facilities and shooting ranges, as well as grants to conserve wildlife habitat and working farms, the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office announced today.
These grant programs are the largest source of state funding for many of Washington’s outdoor recreation experiences, and the only state funding aimed at conserving working farms.
“These grants help make our communities great places to live, work and play,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers the grants. “Not only do these grants allow cash-strapped communities to get projects completed, they put people to work and they open up our great outdoors for people to enjoy.”
Outdoor recreation brings jobs and money to Washington. A national report noted that active outdoor recreation contributes more than $11 billion annually to Washington’s economy, supports 115,000 jobs across the state and generates $650 million in annual state tax revenue and $8.5 billion annually in retail sales and services across Washington.
The Recreation and Conservation Office administers 15 grant programs for activities such as building parks, trails and boating facilities; protecting wildlife habitat; conserving working farms; and recovering salmon from near extinction. Since 1964, the office has awarded nearly $2 billion for more than 8,400 projects across the state.
This year, the Recreation and Conservation Office is offering grants in the following categories:
- Boating – Grants to acquire, develop, and renovate facilities including launching ramps, guest moorage and support facilities for motorized boats and other watercraft.
- Parks – Grants to buy land and develop parks, ball fields, sports courts, outdoor swimming pools and waterfront access areas for the public.
- Shooting Ranges – Grants to buy land, develop and renovate firearm ranges and archery training and practice facilities.
- Trails – Grants to maintain and develop trails.
- Farmland Preservation – Grants to preserve valuable farmland.
- Wildlife Habitat Conservation – Grants to conserve significant natural areas or habitat for plants and animals. This includes grants to protect areas along streams and waterways.
For more information about the grants available this year, visit the RCO Web site at: www.rco.wa.gov/grants/grants_available.shtml. Some grant applications are due May 1 and others July 1.
Funding for these grants come from a variety of sources – the federal government, state funding and user fees.
“Competition for these grants is always high,” Cottingham said. “We usually have funding for only half the proposals submitted. The grant proposals are scored by citizens with experience in outdoor recreation and conservation, using criteria established by the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board. The evaluation process is fair and open and helps ensure that the state is investing in only the best projects.”