Action Alert! Help Fund Washington’s Public Lands

Washington’s state parks and recreation lands are home to world class landscapes, but land managers are struggling to keep up with soaring visitation amidst static funding. The clock is winding down: with less than a month left in this short session, legislators are currently writing the final budget that need your support. Learn more and speak up today!
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
February 15, 2022

Here in Washington, we’re fortunate to have 6.5 million acres of state-managed parks and public land. Whether it’s climbing at Frenchman’s Coulee near Vantage, paddling Deception Pass, or hiking through the Snoqualmie River Valley, our state public lands play host to many Mountaineers activities and other outdoor experiences. But, as anyone who has tried to get a summer camping reservation in a state park can attest, our state parks and trails are heavily used, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

As visitation to Washington’s public lands increases, land managers continue to face flat funding. State public lands agencies estimate the cost of resolving the current maintenance backlog to be $50-75 million annually, reflecting campgrounds, trails, roads, toilets, and other facilities in critical need of repairs and upgrades. 

These issues will continue to impact your recreation experience until the agencies have the necessary resources to address the problems. Right now, there’s a big opportunity in the state legislature to address the maintenance backlog on Washington’s public lands, but we need to act quickly.

TAKE ACTION

A golden opportunity

As a result of increased tax revenue and federal initiatives like the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the state has a budget surplus, and legislators are currently deciding how to distribute those dollars. Along with others in the recreation community, we feel that a portion of the surplus should go towards state recreation lands.

Over the first month of the state legislative session, a bipartisan budget proposal led by Representative Cindy Ryu (D - Shoreline) has been gaining support. This plan would distribute a total of $15 million to Washington State Parks, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Washington Department of Natural Resources. With this plan, $5 million would directly fund each agency to restore and maintain facilities and amenities. 

This means more resources for land managers to better conserve the landscape despite booming visitation and a better recreation experience in state parks, wildlife areas, and other recreation lands. While this funding won’t solve the problem, it would be a great first step to put our state’s public lands on a more sustainable path.

Stepping up for parks

Our partner Washington Trails Association has been building a vibrant coalition of support throughout the local conservation and recreation community. Hikers, climbers, horseback riders, paddlers, bikers, and motorized recreationists are all joining together to support this effort. 

The clock is winding down: with less than a month left in this short session, legislators are currently writing the final budget. Urge your senator and representatives to support inclusion of this critical funding for public lands in the final version of this year’s state budget.

TAKE ACTION


Thank you for joining us in stepping up for Washington’s public lands. We’ll follow up with an update shortly, as the budget situation develops.

Lead image of  climbers approaching the base of the Feathers at Frenchman Coulee. Photo by Steve McClure.


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