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Rep. Strickland Visits WTA Gear Library and Talks Trail Funding

Posted by cgiampetro at Apr 18, 2022 05:28 PM |

WTA met with Representative Marilyn Strickland to tour our Puyallup gear library and talk funding for trails.

Washington Trails Association met with Representative Marilyn Strickland on April 14 to tour our Puyallup gear library and talk about funding for trails. WTA led a group of outdoor recreation partners to chat with Strickland about the Recreational Trails Program and bringing more funding to trail projects in Washington state.

Group of people gather around Washington Trails Association sign, looking at camera.Representatives from Washington Trails Association, the Mountaineers, American Whitewater, Pierce County Parks and Recreation, and Leafline Trails Coalition met with Rep. Strickland at WTA's Puyallup gear library. 

A place to talk trails

Washington Trails Association, The Mountaineers, Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, Leafline Trails Coalition, Pierce County Parks & Recreation, American Whitewater, Outdoor Alliance Washington and Communities for a Healthy Bay met with Rep. Strickland to chat about access and funding for trails.

The group met at WTA’s Pierce County gear library, a place where educators and youth organizations can check out gear for outings. There are so many kinds of activities to enjoy outdoors, but understanding how and where to get started can be an intimidating task. WTA’s Outdoor Leadership Training program and gear library facilitate access to the equipment and training so community leaders have the things they need to get outside.

Rep. Strickland heard firsthand about the impact that the gear library makes in reducing barriers that prevent people from getting outdoors; for example, for young girls a part of the Communities for a Healthy Bay’s environmental justice camp. Khadijah Tividad, Clean Water Educator at Communities for a Healthy Bay, was present at the tour and discussed how the gear library provides resources that would otherwise be expensive for families to purchase for kids wanting to get outside.

People stand and talk in a circle at WTA's gear library.Partners gather around in WTA's Puyallup gear library to discuss its reach. 

“The gear library allowed the students to not worry about buying gear and allowed students to stay warm during the fall and winter when getting outdoors.” Khadijah shared. 

Khadijah was one of the first leaders in the South Puget Sound region to utilize the gear library for her youth programs. She has completed at least four outings with her youth, ranging from working with the Tahoma Audubon Society to Conservation Northwest and hiking at Mount Rainier.

The congresswoman resonated with these impacts, sharing a similar sentiment from her childhood. While growing up in South Tacoma, Rep. Strickland was disconnected from the city’s waterfront and the parks and natural areas surrounding it. 

“We didn’t own a boat, so we thought the waterfront wasn’t for us. I didn’t have a sense of all the natural assets so close by. All of these areas belong to us all, and education and action to remove barriers to access is so important,” she said.

Her own experience exemplifies the need for resources like that the gear library has to offer for the South Puget Sound community.

Supporting trails in Washington and beyond

At the backdrop of these hiking resources, Rep. Strickland, WTA, and our recreation partners discussed other factors important to keeping trails accessible — things like funding. 

The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) is a critical program that funds trail projects and programs, including over 14,000 pedestrian and hiking trail projects. RTP helps to bring trail users in urban and rural areas together and realize the benefits of trails. 

Funding through RTP helps WTA run our volunteer crews, who perform around 160,000 hours of trail maintenance throughout the state every year. RTP is one of the largest sources of funding for trail work in general, funding things like:

  • Trail maintenance and restoration
  • Trailside and trailhead facilities
  • Equipment for construction and maintenance
  • Construction of new trails
  • Acquisition of trial corridors

It’s essential that funding for the Recreational Trails Program grows. Right now, funding for the program has not kept pace with increases in visitorship to our public lands. WTA wants to see RTP funding grow to at least $150 million to better steward the land that a growing amount of people are enjoying.

During the tour on Thursday, Rep. Strickland’s office affirmed their support for outdoor recreation through these funding discussions. Rep. Strickland is a strong supporter of the Recreational Trails Program. She co-sponsored bill HR 1864, which was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in March 2021 to fully fund RTP. Congresswoman Strickland also cosponsors the Transit to Trails Act, legislation that would create a grant program for projects that increase transportation access and mobility to public lands, shorelines and monuments for critically underserved populations, as a further showcase of her commitment to reducing barriers to the outdoors.

Two Washington Trails Association staff and Representative Strickland stand next to each other, masks on, at the WTA gear library.MJ Sampang and Jaime Loucky of Washington Trails Association stand on either side of Rep Strickland, trying on backpacks at the gear library.

When the time comes to advocate for recreation, like that supported by the Recreational Trails Program, we’ll need your support, too. Sign up for the Trail Action Network so we can connect with you for help when our trails need it.