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Bothell awaiting grant for final phase of North Creek Forest project

Demand for conservation and outdoor recreation funding continues to increase as communities across Washington recover from the recession and prepare for population growth.

Applications recently closed for grant programs administered by the Recreation and Conservation Office, including the stateside matching grant program of the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which funds local park projects.

LWCF applications in Washington increased by 55 percent this year over last year, showing strong demand for parks and trails funding in the state.

Proposed projects include five parks in Pierce County, four in King, two in Lewis and Snohomish, and one in Chelan, Clallam, Clark, Grant, Island, Jefferson, Kitsap, Pend Oreille and Skagit Counties respectively.

A $500,000 grant would allow the city of Bothell to complete the purchase of the city’s last urban forest that is within walking distance of 9,000 students who use it as an outdoor laboratory.

A complete list of proposed LWCF local park projects in Washington can be found here.

It would take $8.1 million to fund all 22 projects. In 2013, three Washington projects received $793,030. Nine projects were left unfunded due to severe underfunding of the program by Congress.

“Without the [Land and Water Conservation Fund], we wouldn’t have had a chance,” said Jim Freese, executive director of Friends of North Creek Forest. “As the value of the property goes up, it gets harder and harder to raise funding to buy the rest of the land.”

Created by Congress in 1965, LWCF is the nation’s premier federal grant program for conservation and outdoor recreation. The program uses no taxpayer dollars. Instead, $900 million in offshore oil and gas lease revenue is meant to be invested in parks and outdoor recreation opportunities each year. However, year after year Congress diverts a majority of LWCF funds for unrelated purposes.

Conservationists, sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts alike around the country are celebrating the 50th anniversary of LWCF this year and asking Congress to renew the program before it expires in 2015.

Eighty-five percent of American voters want their Member of Congress to honor the commitment to fund conservation through LWCF, according to a poll released in October 2013 by Public Opinion Strategies and Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates.

“Washingtonians are demanding access to the outdoors -- whether that’s in the wilderness or at a playground down the street -- and LWCF could provide that,” said Joanna Grist, executive director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition. “We are grateful to have Congressional leaders in Washington who are championing this critical program.”

 

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