Our region is known for its spectacular landscape, bounty of outdoor recreation, and ease for people of all abilities to get outside and take a deep breath of clean air. These lands also support a nearly $22-billion outdoor recreation economy, boosting private jobs and producing reliable tax revenue.
But public lands need our help. Funding to take care of these lands is in jeopardy. That’s why the Greenway Trust is in Olympia advocating for sufficient state funding to keep these lands accessible and safe for all, especially as demand for recreation spaces continues to increase. And we need your help.
One of our top priorities is ensuring funding doesn’t slip backwards for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR). DNR provides recreation for over 11 million visitors per year, including hikers, fishers, equestrians, mountain bikers, boaters, campers, students, and families. These state lands include some of the most heavily used recreation sites in the Mountains to Sound Greenway, including places such as Mt. Si, Mailbox Peak, and Tiger Mountain.
Taking care of these lands gets harder and harder each year. As demand grows for outdoor recreation, DNR is working hard to keep up. But despite cooperative efforts between land agencies and local partners, like the Greenway Trust, the demand is growing faster than current funding can supply. Adequate funding from Olympia is crucial. Trails, bridges, campsites, and educational facilities are all at risk of deteriorating without proper funding.
We know that money is tight in the state budget. Our state legislature must meet funding requirements for education and mental health. Alongside these major challenges, we believe that recreation program funding should not be significantly reduced.
The Governor’s initial budget proposal cuts DNR’s Recreation Program significantly from what they received last year. That’s not enough funding. We can’t slip backwards on our stewardship of these lands, just as need increases. That’s why we’re asking the State Legislature to at least keep funding DNR at the same level as last year, $3.1 million for Natural Area Access and $4.6 million for Sustainable Recreation on state forests.
Funding to care for public lands is an investment in both the past and the future. If we let the progress made on these lands deteriorate, someday we’ll be paying just to catch back up to where we are now. The action now is to maintain these recreation opportunities and natural areas that our community has invested so much in already.
We need your help. Our state legislators need to hear from their constituents that public lands are valued. We created anwith a pre-written letter addressed to the key state budget committee members, asking them to not let funding slip for DNR recreational lands.