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On Lobby Day, Hikers from 26 Districts Champion Outdoor Access, Trail Funding

Posted by Francakes at Feb 27, 2015 12:05 PM |

This week, more than 60 hikers joined us in Olympia to tell legislators why funding for trails and equitable outdoor access are critical issues for Washington.

The hiker advocates gathered at Olympia's sundial in front of the capitol building before meeting with legislators.

Working for trails isn't limited to log-outs and gravel-grading. Sometimes, in order to serve our favorite places, hikers have to trade their boots for a business suit.

On Tuesday, more than 60 hikers from all over the state joined us in Olympia to tell legislators why funding for trails and equitable access to the outdoors are critical issues for Washington .

Investing in Washington’s trails and public lands benefits nearly every resident of our state: 90 percent of Washingtonians walk, hike or climb each year in our state’s great outdoors.

Fostering the next generation of hiker advocates

We want to show hikers that advocacy is an easy -- and incredibly important -- way to protect the trails they love. So, we began the day with some advocacy training and a conversation about what our elected leaders can do about issues affecting outdoor access.

In addition to the many adult advocates, this year's lobby day also featured the largest group of youth advocates we've ever had!

Almost a dozen future-voters joined us for a day of meetings with their elected officials. They ranged from seasoned youth trail volunteers to families to an environmental club from Granite Falls High School.

Funding the outdoors: ‘It’s not about Republicans or Democrats. It’s about a great idea.’

A great idea. That’s how Senator Kevin Ranker (D-40) described putting an advisor focused on outdoor recreation in the Governor’s office. The bill (SB 5843) Ranker was discussing would also fully fund the No Child Left Inside program, which provides grants for outdoor education and outdoor recreation programs for youth.

Senator Ranker was also joined by Senator Linda Evans-Parlette (R-12) and Representatives Steve Tharinger (D-24) and J.T. Wilcox (R-2) at a briefing in support of the bill.

WTA advocates made up more than half of the 90+ citizens who signed on in support of the bill at a hearing held Tuesday.

We also spoke to legislators about other priorities for hikers and outdoors enthusiasts:

  • Expanding the outdoor recreation economy in Washington state with SB 5843.
  • Strong funding for Washington State Parks through the operating ($159 million) and capital ($91.6 million) budget requests.
  • $97 million for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, the amount outlined in the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition’s budget request.
  • Washington Department of Natural Resource’s requests for recreation funding: $6.9 million – Sustainable Recreation; $2 million – Teanaway Community Forest; and $3.1 million – Natural Areas Program.

How you can speak up for trails

The legislative session is in full swing now and with bill deadlines quickly approaching, we need you to contact your elected officials.

You can continue to be involved by:

With your support, we will make sure all Washingtonians have equal access to trails.