Action Alert! 2019 Washington State Budget & Public Lands

Washington legislators are negotiating the state's budgets - which includes funding for our state land management agencies and outdoor programs. Learn more about what's at stake and how you can step up for Washington's state lands.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
February 08, 2019

In odd-numbered years (like this one), Washington legislators set the two-year state budget (capitol and operating). Lawmakers are currently negotiating this year’s funding package. Critical provisions for education, human services, infrastructure, and public lands hang in the balance. From the shores of Deception Pass to the Ponderosa pines of Riverside, our state public lands - and the agencies that steward them - need sufficient funding to provide the outdoor experience we know and love.

Now is the time to make our voices heard and champion  funding for Washington’s public lands.

Contact Your State Legislators

Below you’ll find more information about the budget process as well as a list of important funding priorities. Please keep in mind that your letter to legislators will be more impactful if you ask them to support specific measures and explain why they’re important to you.

Budget Process

  • Washington operates on a two-year budget cycle. The budget is finalized in odd numbered years like 2019.
  • The process begins with the governor releasing a proposed budget in December. (You can view Governor Inslee’s December 2018 proposal online.)
  • Starting in January, the state senate and house take the governor’s recommendation into account and negotiate their own budget.
  • In the spring, the state senate and house submit their final budget to the governor (who may veto some or all of the budget).
  • Once the governor signs the budget, it takes effect on July 1. 

Mountaineers Funding Priorities

As Washington State’s population grows, more people are spending time outdoors. We believe funding for state public lands needs to reflect this increasing demand. With that in mind, we support funding that stewards our state public lands and helps more people, especially youth, get outside. 

Funding for state land management agency priorities:

Washington Department of Natural Resources

The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the agency tasked with managing our state trust lands. The agency utilizes revenue from timber harvests to provide funding for public institutions like schools, while also balancing conservation and recreation priorities.

We support DNR's budget request for the following outdoor recreation funds:

  • $3.9 million for their Outdoor Recreation and Community Engagement program
    • Despite Washington’s outdoor recreation industry providing 200,000 jobs and generating $21 billion in annual economic activity, DNR has been forced to close more than 30 recreation sites since 2008. DNR will use this program to fund a number of positions including “10 new employees in regional positions to support maintenance, manage volunteers, expand recreational opportunities, and provide education and enforcement. [As well as ] 3 outreach professionals to work with partners to educate the public about recreation opportunities and the importance of public lands and working forests, recruit volunteers for maintenance, and increase visits to state recreation areas.”
  • $8.5 million for the sustainable recreation program
    • These funds will be used to “…to complete more than 60 small-to-mid-sized recreation projects across the state to address safety, make community-supported improvements, and upgrade existing facilities. This request continues the department’s support of public access in an environmentally sustainable manner working in concert with DNR’s trust objectives.”
    • Learn more on the WA DNR website

Washington State Parks

We support WA State Parks’ $120.6 million capital budget request. From sea kayaking at Hope Island State Park to climbing at Olahee State Park, these lands are a vital part of the outdoor experience and an essential space for Mountaineers courses and activities.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)

We support funding WDFW with $30 million to fill their operating shortfall and an additional $28 million to improve their services. Although many recreationists may not realize it, WDFW manages wild places throughout the state, including high-use climbing areas like Vantage and Tieton, mountain biking areas like Joe Watt Canyon and Manastash Ridge, and hundreds of water access sites for kayaking. The agency needs funding to close their budget shortfall and continue supporting these experiences.

funding for programs that promote conservation, recreation and getting youth outdoors

Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP)

We support funding for WWRP at the $130 million level. WWRP serves as our state’s premier grant program, providing matching funds to create new local and state parks, develop trails, protect wildlife habitat, conserve forests, and more.

No Child Left Inside

We support allocating $1.5 million for the WA State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) to manage No Child Left Inside (NCLI), a grant program which helps kids experience the outdoors. Over the past decade, we’ve advocated for the creation and continuation of this vital program. We’re proud of its success, and the example it’s set nationally. Four states, including California, Oregon, Nevada, and Minnesota, have all introduced NCLI bills this year. We believe every child has the right to experience nature, and that developing this connection is key to creating future public lands advocates.

The Mountaineers are beneficiaries of this program, and it's allowed us to expand our Mountain Workshops programming in our Tacoma and Kitsap branches. This year the grant will allow us to serve over 400 youth through partnerships with nine youth-serving organizations. 

 CONTACT YOUR STATE LEGISLATORS

Kayakers at Deception Pass State Park