Celebrating Legislative Successes Across the State

The Washington State Legislature closed its supplemental session last week with some wins for public lands, ecosystem resilience, and active transportation. Check out the list below for a sampling of the many issues covered during the session and some key highlights connected to our mission of conserving and enhancing the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area.

Funding for the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trail 

The Washington State Legislature allocated $6.6 million in Move Washington funds into the 2023-2025 biennium budget, enabling the city of Bellevue to secure an additional $2.37 million in federal funds in time for a grant deadline. This will fund the next segment of construction of the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trail between 142nd Place SE and 150th Avenue SE in the Eastgate neighborhood in Bellevue. Learn More

Support for the Community Forest Grant Program 

The Teanaway Community Forest was the first community-managed forest in the state, and was created by the state’s largest conservation purchase in 2013.  Community-based forestry, in which residents are actively included in the development and management of working forest land, brings benefits to public health, generates local jobs and economic activity, enhances wildlife habitat, provides recreation access and supports climate resilience. We are especially grateful that the Washington State Legislature fully funded the Community Grant Program at $5.77 million this session. Learn More  

Trust Land Transfer: It’s the Answer!

The critically-important Trust Land Transfer program received $10.8 million for nine land conservation projects that will conserve 2,240 acres of forest in perpetuity, including 95 acres in the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Valley. This funding source allows the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (WA-DNR) to place forest lands in conservation status for wildlife and respectful recreation. WA-DNR manages some of the most popular natural areas and recreation sites in the state, and this is a welcome investment in climate resiliency and forest health. Learn More 

Photo by Merrill Images

Policy Matters: DNR Recreation Commercial Use Fees 

One important change in land management agency policy is the new ability of WA-DNR to create a fee structure to grant permits for recreation groups. Washington State Parks and Department of Fish and Wildlife already had this ability, and now WA-DNR does too, which helps them to effectively plan for visitation and manage group access effectively. Learn More 

Looking Ahead to November: Your Support Will Be Needed!

While we’re happy to share this good news above from the Washington State Legislative Session, one note of caution is that much of the funding described above relies on the state’s Climate Commitment Act remaining in place. Unfortunately, there will be a measure going to the voters in November 2024 to attempt to repeal this important statewide investment in climate resiliency. Repealing the Climate Commitment Act would be a travesty to our state investments in forest health and ecosystem resilience. We will support the Climate Commitment Act’s continuation and hope voters will learn the many negative impacts of repealing this important program and vote against its repeal.  

Want to support investments in public lands? Here’s what you can do to help: 

Questions? Contact Amy Brockhaus, Deputy Director for the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust at amy.brockhaus@mtsgreenway.org