Give DNR feeback on Funding and Enforcement
Help DNR shape its 2011 legislative agenda by participating in this week's online forums.
Every day this week, hikers like you have a unique opportunity to weigh in on the future of some of your favorite places, from Gothic Basin to Mount Si.
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wants user input on how they provide recreation opportunities, including how they're funded.
This week, DNR is hosting an online forum that seeks user input on a variety of topics. Today, the topic is "Education and Enforcement." Tomorrow, they'll ask you to weigh in on "Funding." We urge you to take them up on their request for input!
Here's the issue. The state of Washington is staring down the barrel of a $3 billion budget deficit for 2011, hot on the heels of massive deficits the past two years. DNR is in the same boat of all state agencies--they're facing budget cuts--and Governor Gregiore has just signed an executive order directing across-the-board cuts to state programs. You may recall that earlier in 2010, we narrowly saved 22 DNR recreation sites from closing their gates due to budget cuts—places as beloved as Mount Si and Rattlesnake Mountain—by getting those recreation cuts restored. This coming year will be even more challenging because the legislature has already cut deeply into agency budgets across the board. So, we think it is very likely that the legislature will target both DNR and State Parks for significant cuts this year. That makes it more important than ever that hikers show support for DNR recreation lands.
Here's what we think about Tuesday's topic:
Education and Enforcement
In 2009, the legislature transferred NOVA funds from grants and agency appropriations. NOVA was an important funding source for Education and Enforcement programs, and those monies must be returned to their intended uses in this year's budget. The NOVA transfer and its impacts on education and enforcement and agency funding is one of the most important things hikers can talk about as part of this forum.
And on Wednesday's topic:
DNR will be proposing legislation that is patterned on the recommendations of the Sustainable Recreation Work Group, convened by DNR in 2009. The Work Group recommended a number of policy options. DNR and the legislature must pursue some of these options this session, possibly including judicious use of user fees. The legislature has to start work on setting up long term solutions like a new class of trust lands to pay for recreation.
If you want to weigh in and want more information on WTA's stance, please see our main article on the DNR forums. Thank you for your actions on behalf of hiking trails.