Great News for the Outdoors in Washington State’s Budget

We’re excited to report that outdoor recreation and conservation received strong support from the Legislature this session. Learn more about the results of your advocacy and take a moment to thank your legislators.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
May 14, 2021

This winter, we shared our funding priorities for outdoor programs in Washington’s state budget. Hundreds of you took action to share those priorities with your state legislators - thank you! We’re excited to report that outdoor recreation and conservation received strong support from the Legislature this session. 

Two key outdoor programs saw record levels of funding: the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program and No Child Left Inside. These investments will conserve natural spaces and get more kids outside. The Legislature provided strong support for equitable access to outdoor recreation this session, funding several new programs to help ensure that all communities have the opportunity to experience the benefits of nature. And our state land management agencies saw an increase in funding, which will help them maintain trails and restore ecosystems. 

Thank you for helping make this happen! Help ensure future wins by thanking your legislators for a job well done and for investing in the outdoors. Use the easy action tool below to send your representatives a note of appreciation. 

Thank Your Legislators

Investing in Conservation and Recreation Projects

In partnership with the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition and many other organizations across the state, we advocated for a $140 million (capital) budget request for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP). The WWRP is a key source of grant funding to create new local and state parks, develop trails, protect wildlife habitat, conserve forests, and more. 

The final budget included $100 million in funding for WWRP, matching the previous all-time record. Projects funded in this budget include protecting a forested area of Cougar Mountain from development, creating new urban parks like the North Rainier Land Banked Park in Seattle, and saving the Mount Washington crags at Exit 38.

Maiza Lima at Mt WA Crags - Photo by Scott Rinckenberger (4).jpgMaiza lima at mount washington crags. photo by scott rinckenberger.

Funding to Help More Kids Experience the Outdoors

One of the most exciting surprises in the final budget was a near TRIPLING of funding for the No Child Left Inside (NCLI) grant program. We joined our partners in the No Child Left Inside Coalition to advocate for $2 million for NCLI, a $500,000 increase over the current level. This grant program helps underserved kids experience the outdoors. The Mountaineers are beneficiaries of this program, which you can learn more about below. 

We’re thrilled to report that NCLI received a record $4.5 million in the final (operating) budget, which will help organizations like The Mountaineers serve more than 116,000 youth and provide kids with nearly 6 million hours of outdoor activity. 

Project Highlight: Mountain Workshops

Our Mountain Workshops program has served youth in the Puget Sound since 2011. Mountain Workshops help connect marginalized youth to the outdoors through activities like hiking, rock climbing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, stewardship projects, and more. Through partnering with local schools and nonprofit organizations, Mountain Workshops support the needs of youth who traditionally face significant barriers to accessing the outdoors. The goal of the program is to provide single and multi-day outdoor experiences that inspire underrepresented youth to build a lifelong connection with nature. More than 90% of the activities will take place on public lands. 

The Mountaineers has applied for a 2021 No Child Left Inside grant and is currently being considered for funding. We’re hopeful that the $4.5 million in funding approved by the Legislature will make it more likely that The Mountaineers and other applicants will receive funding this year. Funds from the NCLI program would enable Mountain Workshops to serve at least 3,000 youth through 200 program days and more than 15,000 hours of time outside. Approximately 79% of participants represent youth of color and 74% qualify for free or reduced lunch. 

BaileyGatzert_ShowshoeGoldCreekPond2.jpg.JPGYouth from bailey gatzert elementary school snowshoeing at gold creek pond as part of a 2019 mountain workshops trip.  

Equity in the Outdoors

The Legislature funded several new programs to increase equity in outdoor recreation, acknowledging that not all communities have the same opportunities to experience the benefits of the outdoors. We advocated for these programs with our partners in the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition and the Big Tent Outdoor Recreation Coalition. A new grant program will provide over $2 million for projects that directly benefit communities that lack access to outdoor recreation. Funding is also provided for a comprehensive equity review of existing grant programs to remove barriers to participation experienced by urban and rural underserved communities. 

The Legislature also established a “Parks Rx Health and Wellness” pilot program, which intends to help doctors prescribe time outdoors to communities that experience poor health outcomes. They also funded a workgroup requested by the Governor that will identify inclusion barriers for Black Washingtonians to participate in the state park system and other outdoor recreation spaces. These are important and exciting new investments that are a good start to ensuring that everyone can access the outdoors. 

Funding for State Public Lands

We supported the budget requests of state land management agencies like State Parks, Department of Natural Resources, and Department of Fish and Wildlife, and were pleased that they received strong support from the state Legislature. The Department of Natural Resources received an increase in their Sustainable Recreation and Natural Areas programs, which will help manage increased outdoor recreation and protect spectacular state lands like the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Valley. Washington State Parks also received an increase in capital and operating funding to help maintain our state parks and meet increased demand. 

20170620_102310.jpgMountaineers intense basic trip to frenchman coulee, department of fish and wildlife land. photo by steve mcclure.

Be sure to take a moment and thank your legislators for their support for the outdoors - it only takes a moment and it goes a long way to ensuring future successes. 

Thank Your Legislators

Main photo of Seattle Pathfinders hiking at Goose Rock in April, 2021. Photo courtesy of David Rothstein.