Coalition Blog

This is the blog for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, where we'll share e-news and feature posts on Washington's public lands.

Report: 50 years of the Land and Water Conservation Fund

If you’ve ever gone hiking, hunting, fishing, camping or just generally enjoyed our outdoors, you have likely benefited from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. But without Congressional action the LWCF could expire next year.

Read the report! (PDF)

Over the course of a decade, the forested “Heart of the Cascades” region in Kittitas County has presented a rare opportunity to secure vital wildlife habitat and public access for hikers, campers, hunters and anglers – tourism that is a primary economic driver for the region.

“The wildlife values here were like nothing we’d ever seen on a landscape like this,” says Rance Block, retired Washington lands manager for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

The application for the fourth and final phase of the Heart of the Cascades project has now been submitted for funding from the state Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) grant program, which provides matching grants for key conservation projects throughout the state.

The project would complete the purchase of private “checkerboard” parcels on the east slope of the central Cascades between the Wenas and L.T. Murray Wildlife Areas. This last piece of the puzzle would protect 4,014 acres of critical migration corridors for elk, muledeer, bighorn sheep, salmon and steelhead, and ensure recreational access for all Washingtonians. 

“A lot of businesses [in the area] provide a service for hunters, campers, fisherman,” explains George Michel, local business owner of MiDee Stitch Saddle & Tack Repair.  “If we didn’t have the availability of public lands…those little businesses are going to die off.”

Even community members who may have never set foot in the area’s conifer forests would benefit from the clean, reliable water supply that this project would secure.

Half of the necessary $4 million in funding is now secured through a grant from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which reinvests royalties from offshore oil and gas drilling that occurs in public waters.

That’s a reason to celebrate, but there is still work left to do.

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Thanks for celebrating 25 years with us!

How do we even begin to measure 25 years?

Well, you can start with more than $1.1 billion for conservation and outdoor recreation in Washington, 1,200 community supported projects, countless places preserved, restored, enhanced, and made accessible for all.

Those are all great reasons to celebrate! That’s why more 600 of our friends and supporters joined us at the Westin for breakfast this past Tuesday.

It was a morning to reflect on our success, and the great work that’s left to be done. Governor Jay Inslee announced the results of his Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation that will outline the state’s priorities for our great outdoors.

Funding for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program is listed as one of the 12 action items in the final Blue Ribbon Task Force report.

The Coalition is requesting Governor Inslee’s support for $97 million for the WWRP to reflect growing need and maximize economic benefits of the outdoors.

“We know that the outdoors don’t have just an environmental and recreation significance in our state,” said Governor Inslee. “This is a $22 billion sector in our economy.”

The outdoor recreation economy supports 227,000 jobs in Washington alone and acts as a significant quality-of-life attractor for highly-skilled workers in fields like tech and aerospace, but we have work to do to preserve those incredible resources for the future.

Richard Wynne, a committed Coalition board member and director of business strategy at Boeing said, “The population of our region is only expected to grow, and with it, demand for more parks, more trails, more wild space, and more local food will just continue to increase. That means the Coalition’s work is more necessary than ever before.”

 Kim Noah of the Port of Camas-Washougal and Renee Tkach of the Gorge Towns to Trails project spoke of their community’s need for increased funding for the WWRP and Land and Water Conservation Fund for the Washougal Waterfront Trail, an opportunity to revitalize the local economy by increasing quality of life and attracting visitors as a gateway to the Columbia River Gorge.

The attendees comprised businesses like REI and Washington Realtors as well as conservation groups like The Nature Conservancy and Forterra.

We were overjoyed to recognize Bill Robinson as this year’s Joan Thomas Award recipient in recognition of his years of dedicated work to protect and enhance the state’s great outdoors. (Read an in depth profile of Bill at the Nature Conservancy’s website.)

For the occasion, Commissioner of State Lands Peter Goldmark said, “Bill Robinson is one of the smartest and most effective voices for conservation in our state. He has worked tirelessly to promote funding for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, as well as many other critical conservation efforts, ensuring that we leave future generations a landscape that retains the wildness which feeds our souls and draws many of us to this beautiful state.”

Thanks to all our members who celebrated with us!

conservewa:

Bill Robinson-Lobbyist for Nature

Washington’s lands, waters, wildlife and people are all better off because of Bill Robinson.

As The Nature Conservancy’s lobbyist in Olympia, he’s led successful efforts to create and fund conservation programs and projects in every corner of the state. He’s fought off efforts to gut state environmental protections. And he’s kept his cool throughout his career, always calm and often with a friendly quip.

Bill, who is retiring after 12 years with the Conservancy, is being honored by the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition at its 25th anniversary breakfast Tuesday, with the Joan Thomas Award for a lifetime of service to conservation.

“Joan Thomas was a friend of mine.  And I admire so much her untiring commitment to preserving our natural places and parks,” said Rep. Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, the Speaker of the House. “Bill Robinson has also shown a Joan Thomas-like dedication to making sure our state continues to have the natural beauty accessible to all people - for recreation, for hunting and fishing, to preserve farms and forest and to make sure our salmon are healthy and abundant.  Bill also knows about as much as anybody about the capital budget. Like many, I relied on his knowledge and integrity to help make my decisions as Speaker of the House.   Joan set a high bar for this award and Bill rose to that standard throughout his career.

The Conservancy is a member of both the Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, which lobbies for funding for parks, open space and conservation lands, and the Environmental Priorities Coalition, which unites about 25 state environmental groups around three or four priorities during each Legislative session. As the Conservancy’s state lobbyist Bill has played a leading role in both those coalitions.

"There is no greater source of information or credibility than Bill Robinson when it comes to the capital budget or natural resources policy in Washington state. Bill’s institutional knowledge is unparalleled and his integrity unquestioned,” said Joanna Grist, director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition.

“Bill Robinson is one of the smartest and most effective voices for conservation in our state,” says Peter Goldmark, Washington Public Lands Commissioner. “He has worked tirelessly to promote funding for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, as well as many other critical conservation efforts, ensuring that we leave future generations a landscape that retains the wildness that feeds our souls and draws so many of us to this beautiful state.”

Before coming to the Conservancy, Bill Robinson served for many years in state government, where he developed his deep understanding of the budget process. He served as the budget officer for The Evergreen State College, the governor’s budget director under Gov. Dixy Lee Ray, and was the Staff Director for the House Capital Budget Committee for many years.

Working as part of strong, effective coalitions, he helped achieve milestones in state funding and policies for conservation including $100 million for wildlife and recreation programs in 2007 and $100 million in state funding for counties to prevent polluted stormwater from reaching Puget Sound in 2013. 

“Washington’s people have always cherished our natural beauty and rich environment,” Bill says. “I’m proud I’ve been able to assist in upholding that core value for our state.”

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Photo by Monty Vanderbilt.

Washingtonians know outdoor recreation is good for our economy. Our outdoors generate $22.5 billion in spending each year and attract businesses because top employees desire the high quality of life our state has to offer.

But did you know that outdoor recreation can also be an essential tool for economic recovery? Join us this Saturday, September 13, and you can help communities affected by the SR 530 landslide earlier this year.

Here’s more information from Washington Bikes:

Completing the 27-mile Whitehorse Trail will connect Arlington and Darrington through the stunning Stillaguamish Valley and will tie into the Snohomish County Centennial Trail system. Activity to complete the Whitehorse Trail has gained traction in response to the SR 530 slide near Oso. As the residents of the Stillaguamish Valley seek to recover from the tragedy, completing the Whitehorse Trail serves as one economic redevelopment strategy to attract bike travel and tourism to the area.

Join us at the Fortson Mill Trailhead at 10:30 am on Saturday, September 13 to celebrate the partnerships, progress, and potential of the Whitehorse Trail for helping to redevelop the Stillaguamish Valley’s economy.We’ll be joined by elected officials and staff, as well as leaders from Darrington and Arlington to recognize the great work already accomplished and the task ahead.

Your support for the Coalition has helped secure past funding in the Stillaguamish Valley through the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program and the Land and Water Conservation Fund:

This year, multiple projects are proposed along the Whitehorse Trail and local youth in Darrington need a place to skate. But these projects will only be funded if the legislature commits robust funding for the WWRP.

Join us with Washington Bikes this Saturday to enjoy the last days of summer and show support for these community-driven projects!

Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson fishing with his son.

On September 3rd, America celebrates an important milestone: the 50th anniversary of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). For five decades, LWCF has protected places to camp, hike, hunt and fish — major economic drivers for rural and urban communities alike.

Washington’s congressional leaders have played a key role in the program’s history since the beginning. Few know that it was Washington Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson who introduced the original Land and Water Conservation Fund Act to the Senate 50 years ago. Then, as now, the program received overwhelming bipartisan support, passing the House on a unanimous voice vote and the Senate 91-1, and was signed into law by President Johnson on September 3, 1964.

Now, the Act could expire without congressional action, meaning this critical tool could disappear forever — but you can help!

Sign on to our support letter urging Congress to provide full dedicated funding for LWCF.

This year, LWCF funding needs include:

  • Protecting Cascade slopes along the Pacific Crest Trail,

  • Land along Lewis and Clark’s historic route along the Columbia River,

  • Renovating the fishing pier in Edmonds,

  • Investing in the Washougal economy through a waterfront trail, and many other community priorities across the state.

Read More

Last month, we introduced our interns helping contribute to our work on stewardship and the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. Now, meet Rebecca Brunn, our development intern who has stepped in to coordinate many of the finer details for the Coalition’s annual breakfast.

Rebecca, a native of New York, graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with a degree in Liberal Arts. A former park ranger and AmeriCorps volunteer, she is thrilled to be combining her love of the outdoors with her experience in nonprofits here at the Coalition. Some of her favorite activities include snowboarding, long-distance swimming, playing ultimate frisbee, making stained glass windows and cheering for the New York Giants.

“I was drawn to the Coalition by the sheer dedication it has for preserving Washington’s natural spaces,” Rebecca says. “Preservation is ideally a collaborative effort, and engaging Washington’s hikers, boaters, kite flyers and bird watchers as an essential part of that effort is what sold me on the Coalition. I am excited to grow as both a nonprofit professional and an outdoors enthusiast with this great organization.”

Great to have you on the team, Rebecca! Be sure to say hi to our interns at the registration table at the Coalition’s breakfast on September 23.

mountaineersbooksblog:

imageDon’t need two tickets to come here
One of the occupational hazards in outdoor publishing is succumbing to a rarely diagnosed disease known as “Mustgetaway Fromtheofficeandexperiencenaturemyselfiania”
(editor’s note: need to fact check this disease).

Definitely a hazard in conservation nonprofits too. Let’s get outside this weekend!

(Also, policy nerd fact, Mount Rainier has greatly benefited from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.)

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Hunters planning their next expeditions might find that some of their favorite places are no longer available to them or are no longer affordable to visit.

In areas lacking access to public lands, many hunters and anglers rely on commercial forestlands so they can pursue their sports, but this becomes complicated when private landowners close popular spots or begin charging fees.

Private landowners have the right to put rules on their land, which is why programs like the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund and the state Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program are so essential to ensure public access for all.

These programs protect wildlife refuges, state and national forests, water access and more so every Washingtonian can continue to pursue these traditional pastimes.

If you’re looking for public land near you, try these resources:

Where is your favorite public place to hunt or fish? Email us your stories and photos so we can showcase them on our blog.

Photo by canopic.

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It has been heartbreaking to see the images of fires disrupting communities in Eastern Washington. When they burn out of control, they can cause millions of dollars in property damage and displace people and wildlife, but fire can be a critical part of the life cycle of healthy natural landscapes.

We know it will take years for communities to recover, but we want to offer a little bit of hope this month to show how outdoors enthusiasts in our state are working to protect these special places and the people that rely on them.

In fact, they’re a necessary part of a healthy forest as long as we prevent them from getting out of control.

We can all help find funds for forest restoration efforts by supporting strong funding for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP). The Department of Fish and Wildlife has applied for WWRP funds this year for projects including controlled burnings, thinnings, and land purchases to help reduce fire risk and management costs.

In fact, the WWRP has an entire category devoted to maintaining our state lands against these devastating threats. Here are just a couple projects proposed this year:

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25 years ago this month, Governors Dan Evans and Mike Lowry announced the creation of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition and things sure have changed a lot since then!
Our founding members knew we needed a solution to funding Washington’s great outdoors, but it took a little while to sort out the details. Before the Coalition founded the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, a state grant program for outdoor recreation and conservation, we thought we’d be taking the issue to the ballot.
Luckily, the Coalition quickly found a large number of bipartisan supporters in Olympia who were determined to create a long term solution in the state capital construction budget.
25 years later, our many Coalition members have helped more than double the original goal of $500 million for the outdoors, funding more than 1,200 projects that benefit every county in the state. Our work isn’t over, but we’re here for the long haul. Thank you so much for making all of this possible.
Want to give a special gift in honor of this historic occasion? Support us online.

25 years ago this month, Governors Dan Evans and Mike Lowry announced the creation of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition and things sure have changed a lot since then!

Our founding members knew we needed a solution to funding Washington’s great outdoors, but it took a little while to sort out the details. Before the Coalition founded the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, a state grant program for outdoor recreation and conservation, we thought we’d be taking the issue to the ballot.

Luckily, the Coalition quickly found a large number of bipartisan supporters in Olympia who were determined to create a long term solution in the state capital construction budget.

25 years later, our many Coalition members have helped more than double the original goal of $500 million for the outdoors, funding more than 1,200 projects that benefit every county in the state. Our work isn’t over, but we’re here for the long haul. Thank you so much for making all of this possible.

Want to give a special gift in honor of this historic occasion? Support us online.

We are very excited to introduce two new interns who are joining us this summer to unite voices around Washington State in support of our great outdoors!

Welcome to Stewardship Intern Sarah Geyer, and Federal Policy and Communications Intern Ethan Fetz!

Sarah is a Seattle local with a passion for conservation and sustainability. She is currently a senior at the University of Washington majoring in Environmental Studies and Biology with a focus on Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation. After graduation, she hopes to attend graduate school and eventually pursue a career in environmental policy.

During her internship, Sarah is assisting in the Coalition’s stewardship work by working with state agencies to help clarify the gaps and opportunities in state land stewardship. The goal is to eventually be able to develop solutions that can help address management challenges and help keep our outdoors great.

Read More