Action Alert! Advocate for the Outdoors in Washington State’s Budget

Washington legislators are negotiating the state's budget - which includes funding for our state land management agencies and outdoor programs. Learn more about what's at stake and how you can speak up for our state lands.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
February 20, 2021

Every two years, the Washington State Legislature passes a budget that funds state operations like education, human services, transportation, and public lands. Lawmakers are currently negotiating this year’s funding package. The Mountaineers is working with other conservation and recreation groups to advocate for funding for our state land management agencies and outdoor programs. Now more than ever, our state public lands need sufficient funding to ensure sustainable and equitable access to the outdoors. 

Outdoor spaces managed by state agencies provide close-to-home opportunities to get outside - something that’s been especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic. They also provide ecological benefits such as clean air and water, wildlife habitat, and climate resiliency. 

These 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 speak up for Washington’s public lands.

Take Action

Below you’ll find more information about the budget process as well as a list of important funding priorities. 

BUDGET PROCESS

  • Washington operates on a two-year budget cycle. The budget is finalized in odd numbered years.
  • The process begins with the Governor releasing a proposed budget in December (you can view Governor Inslee’s December 2020 proposal online).
  • Starting in January, the state Senate and House take the Governor’s recommendation into account and negotiate their own capital and operating budgets. This is when it’s important to tell legislators your budget priorities. 
  • 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 to ensure sustainable and equitable access to the outdoors. 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) stewards millions of acres of forests that provide clean air and water, recreation opportunities, economic development, and revenue for government services. DNR manages popular recreation destinations such as Tiger Mountain, Mount Si Natural Resources Conservation Area, and Capitol State Forest. We support funding for DNR to ensure long-term sustainability and ecological health of these treasured places. 

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

  • Sustainable Recreation: $8.5 million for developing and renovating trails and campgrounds, and improving outdoor recreation access. This funding is especially important to help manage increased outdoor recreation through safety, sanitation, and ecological improvements. 
  • Natural Areas: $5.05 million for protecting DNR’s most spectacular lands like the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Valley. The state’s version of a wilderness designation, DNR Natural Areas conserve outstanding examples of natural ecosystems, scenic landscapes, and threatened plants and wildlife. This funding will enhance these places and improve watershed health and recreation access. 

WASHINGTON STATE PARKS

We support Washington State Parks’ $122.4 million capital budget and $219 million operating budget requests. From sea kayaking at Hope Island State Park to climbing at Olallie State Park, these lands are a vital part of the outdoor experience and an essential space for Mountaineers courses and activities. This funding will help maintain our state parks and meet increasing demand for outdoor recreation like camping and hiking. 

We’re also supportive of two proposals to increase equitable access to the state park system. State Parks is requesting $1.2 million to support community and youth engagement, especially with underserved and diverse populations. The Governor is also requesting $85,000 for a State Parks workgroup to identify inclusion barriers for Black Washingtonians. This group will develop recommendations to increase the number of Black Washingtonians who participate in the state park system and other outdoor recreation spaces. 

150822_001.jpgmountaineers sea kayakers at deception pass state park. photo courtesy of charlie michel and friends. 

FUNDING FOR PROGRAMS THAT PROMOTE CONSERVATION, RECREATION, AND GETTING YOUTH OUTDOORS

WASHINGTON WILDLIFE AND RECREATION PROGRAM (WWRP)

We support funding for WWRP at the $140 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. This program funds both frontcountry and backcountry outdoor recreation opportunities, from city parks to backcountry camping.  

Learn more about the program on the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition’s website

NO CHILD LEFT INSIDE

We support allocating $2 million for the WA State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) to manage No Child Left Inside (NCLI), a grant program which helps underserved kids experience the outdoors. Over the past decade, we’ve advocated for the creation and continuation of this vital program. These grants create opportunities for kids who don’t get to visit parks and other natural places. We believe every child has the right to experience nature, and that developing this connection is key to creating future public lands advocates. 

Learn more about NCLI on the RCO website and Washington State Parks website

The Mountaineers are beneficiaries of this program, and it's allowed us to expand our Mountain Workshops programming in our Tacoma and Kitsap branches. 

DSC_0217.jpgyouth from bailey gatzert elementary school enjoy snowshoeing at gold creek pond, as part of a mountain workshop trip funded by ncli. 

Take Action

We appreciate collaborating on these issues with our partners at Washington Trails Association, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, and the Big Tent Outdoor Recreation Coalition

main image: mountaineers intense basic climbing trip to vantage. photo by steve mcclure.