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State invests $16 million in grants to preserve forest land


The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Funding Board last week announced the award of more than $126 million in grants to a suite of 333 projects that build and maintain outdoor recreation facilities and conserve wildlife habitat and working farms and forests around the state.

“Not only do these grants support our state’s parks, forests and farms, but they also fuel a powerful outdoor recreation economy that puts about 200,000 people to work and generates more than $26 billion in spending every year,” Governor Jay Inslee said. “At a time when public lands are more and more at risk of being developed or lost altogether, these grants prioritize our outdoor spaces so that current and future generations can continue to enjoy and protect them.”

“The funding creates more places to play, expands habitat for fish and other wildlife, supports clean air and water, and upholds healthy communities across Washington state and improves our quality of life,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director at the Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers the grants.

“As one of the state’s biggest investors in the outdoors, the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board has had a part in thousands of projects across Washington state, from the park down the street to backcountry campsites and other destinations,” said Ted Willhite, chair of the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board. “It’s part of what makes Washington such a great place to live and play.”

With the Legislature’s recent approval of the capital budget, grants are being distributed to cities, counties, state and federal agencies, tribal governments, and nonprofit organizations for projects in 37 of the state’s 39 counties.

The grants were awarded through seven different grant programs. Revenue comes from a mix of federal grants, the sale of state bonds, gas taxes and user fees.

Klickitat County has received $197,600 in grants that will be used for these purposes:

Washington Department of Natural Resources Grant awarded: $91,300 restoring Columbia Hills Grassland. The Department of Natural Resources will use this grant to restore 30 acres of rare plant habitat in Columbia Hills Natural Area Preserve and Columbia Hills State Park, on the eastern edge of the Columbia Gorge, near Goldendale. The Columbia Hills area has diverse plant communities including grassland, vernal pools, wet meadows, and oak forests, and several rare plants found only in Klickitat County. In addition, numerous wildlife and birds rely on these areas for breeding and foraging. An increase in nonnative grasses such as cheatgrass, bulbous bluegrass, and rush skeletonweed, threaten the native communities. The department will treat nonnative species in select areas and restore the native plant communities on 25 acres. In addition, the department project will control invasive plants and plant oak trees on 5 acres destroyed by wildfire, around Crawford Oaks Trailhead. The department also will install two interpretative signs along Stacker Butte road in the Columbia Hills Natural Area Preserve to highlight the ecological and geological significance of this area. This grant is from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program.

Washington Department of Natural Resources Grant awarded: $106,300 restoring the Trout Lake Natural Area Preserve Forest and Meadow. The Department of Natural Resources will use this grant to restore the Trout Lake Natural Area Preserve in northwest Klickitat County, 24 miles north of White Salmon. The department will control weeds, remove nonnative pasture grasses, and help native plants establish on 10 acres of wetlands. The restoration work will improve breeding and foraging habitat for Oregon spotted frogs and sandhill cranes. The department also will thin and removing trees on another 50 acres of forest to enhance habitat for northern spotted owls, western gray squirrels, and Pulsifer’s monkeyflowers. This grant is from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information and photographs of this project.

Northwest Motorcycle Association Grant awarded: $60,557 caring for multi-use trails statewide, including Klickitat County. The Northwest Motorcycle Association will use this grant to maintain 73 miles of trail on Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Forest Service land. Maintenance is critical to prevent further trail damage and trail closures, enhance visitors’ experiences, and improve safety. The trails are used by hikers, equestrians, motorcyclists, hunters, and mountain bikers. The association will contribute $54,600 in donations of cash and labor. This grant is from the Recreational Trails Program.

All of the funded projects were evaluated and ranked through a competitive process in which citizen committees with expertise in recreation and conservation issues evaluated the grant proposals and created ranked lists for the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board to consider for funding.

“Because we have funding for only about half of the applications that come in, we have to be strategic with our investments, selecting only the best projects,” Cottingham said.

The office accepted applications for 562 projects, requesting nearly $232 million. Most of the grant programs require grant applicants to contribute matching resources. This year, the matching resources totaled nearly $142 million, more than doubling the state’s investment in Washington’s outdoor recreation and conservation efforts.

Of the more than $126 million in grants, more than $47 million goes to build or improve parks, more than $16 million goes each to improve facilities for boaters, $20 million to maintain trails, more than $5 million goes to conserve working farms and another

$36 million goes to protect important wildlife habitat.

About the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board

Established by citizen Initiative 215 in 1964, the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board helps finance recreation and conservation projects throughout the state. The eight-member board consists of five citizens appointed by the Governor and three state agency directors.

Since 1964, the board has improved the state's quality of life through its investment of public funds in parks, trails, beaches, boating facilities, wildlife habitat and natural areas.


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