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Early Budget Proposals in Olympia Show Promising Support for Trails

Posted by jmoschella at Apr 07, 2021 03:26 PM |

With only a few weeks left before state lawmakers finalize budgets, we break down how things are looking for trails and outdoor recreation. See where things stand and take action.

The 2021 state legislative session in Olympia is heading to the finish line. With just a few weeks left, lawmakers are working on the final touches on the next biennium’s budget. 

How did outdoor recreation and trails fare in the initial budget proposals from the Legislature? All in all, we’re pretty happy with the support budget leaders gave to trails and outdoor recreation. Read our breakdown on where we’d like to see our legislative priorities end up by the end of session, and take action to help make it happen.

Gothic basin by Jay WeisbergerThe stunning and popular area around Gothic Basin, managed by the Department of Natural Resources. Photo by Jay Weisberger. 

Department of Natural Resources

  • Sustainable Recreation: This program helps DNR to develop and renovate trails and campgrounds, and to increase public access on state recreation lands. We’re hopeful that the legislature funds this program at the $3.5 million level proposed by the Senate.
  • Natural Areas Facilities Access & Preservation: DNR uses this program to improve facilities like trails and day-use sites in natural areas in Washington. We’re hopeful the legislature supports the Senate’s proposed funding of $3.5 million in its final budget.
  • Teanaway Community Forest: Funding would go to implement projects that improve trails and recreational access as well as to enhance watershed health and wildlife habitat. We would like the final capital budget to fund this work at the $950,000 level proposed in the House budget.

Washington State Parks 

  • No Child Left Inside: This program is run by both State Parks and the Recreation and Conservation Office, and provides grants to outdoor education and recreation programs for youth. The Senate provided an additional $4.5 million in the operating budget for this program and we support that amount. 
  • Parks Rx Task Force: This proviso pilots prescription access to the outdoors to communities that experience poor health outcomes. We’d like to see the final budget include the Senate-proposed $200,000. 

Recreation and Conservation Office 

  • Outdoor Recreation Equity Review: This proviso would fund an equity review of state grant programs to reduce barriers to underserved populations’ participation. The House supported $400,000 in funding in their operating budget. 
  • Statewide Trails Database: This work would help develop, maintain and regularly update a statewide trails database. Both the House and Senate included funding for this at $200,000 in their budgets, which we support. 

Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program

  • WWRP is a critical funding source for hiking trails, walking paths and local parks in Washington. We’d like to see the final capital budget include the House’s proposed $110 million in funding. 

With so many things to prioritize this year, it’s up to hikers like you to help get funding for critical outdoor recreation programs over the line. Take two minutes below to write your legislators, and let them know to prioritize funding for outdoor recreation in the final budgets!