We're Heading Back to Olympia to Work for Hikers Like You
The legislature is currently creating the budget for the next two years. Here are WTA's funding priorities as we enter the 2019 legislative session.
Chances are, if you're reading this, you are one of the 90 percent of Washingtonians who walk, hike, climb and mountaineer. During the first few months of every year, staff from Washington Trails Association hike the halls of the state capitol in Olympia to speak up on behalf of hikers. We work to ensure our elected officials support funding for trails, trail maintenance, agency staffing and necessary equipment, as well as advancing policies that encourage equitable outdoor recreation. Being outside is a way of life for us, and we work hard to make sure anyone who wants to can access nature.
In Olympia, lawmakers are determining the budgets for our state agencies for the next two years. Here's a look at what WTA is requesting support for during the 2019 legislative session:
DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
Fund the Washington Department of Natural Resources’ requests for recreation funding, including $3.9 million for the Outdoor Recreation and Community Engagement program, $444,000 (operating) for the Natural Areas Program and $8.5 million (capital) for the Sustainable Recreation program. DNR lands provide many outdoor-recreation opportunities, but state investment is imperative to complete vital recreation improvements and trail-maintenance projects. This money goes to all sorts of things, including hiring full-time employees to maintain trails, improved trailheads and shiny new toilets.
WASHINGTON STATE PARKS
Support the Washington State Parks’ $196 million (operating) and $120.6 million (capital) budget requests, including the following specific line items:
- $9.05 million (operating) to protect and maintain park properties
- $4.78 million (operating) to meet customer expectations,
- $951,000 (operating) to engage youth and communities
- $130.2 million (capital) for new projects and critical funding reappropriations.
These funds would put state parks on the path back to health. They would also help reduce the more than $500 million deferred maintenance backlog for state parks. This funding helps support road and trail maintenance, equipment replacement, park aides and technology upgrades — among other items.
WASHINGTON WILDLIFE AND RECREATION PROGRAM (WWRP)
Fund the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition’s $130 million (capital) budget request for WWRP. WWRP is a critical funding source for hiking trails and walking paths and is also the largest source of funding for bike and ski trails in Washington. Important capital projects that would be funded include Glover Park Trail and Foothills National Recreation Trail Trailheads Development, among many others.
NO CHILD LEFT INSIDE
Fund $1.5 million (operating) for the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) to oversee this important program. No Child Left Inside provides invaluable grants to Washington state outdoor education and recreation programs for youth. All children and young people deserve opportunities to access the outdoors.
Join us for Hiker rally Day 2019
Interested in learning more, or telling your legislators why you support trail funding? Come join us on Feb. 19 in Olympia for our Hiker Rally Day. Get more information and sign up today! More than ever, elected officials need to hear how much we value our trails and public lands.