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WWRP review process

The Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) has been asked by the Washington State Legislature to conduct a review of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP). The WWRP is a statewide grant program that provides funding for a broad range of land protection and outdoor recreation projects, including park acquisition and development, habitat conservation, farmland preservation, riparian protection, and construction of outdoor recreation facilities. The statutory language can be found in Title 79A.15 RCW. Authorized in 1990, the WWRP was envisioned as a way for the state to acquire valuable recreation and habitat lands before they were lost to other uses and to develop recreation areas for a growing population.

RCO has specifically been asked to convene and facilitate a stakeholder process to review the WWRP and make recommendations for statutory revisions. An invitation to local governments, state agencies, Tribes, nonprofit organizations and legislators will seek recommendations and input to objectively evaluate the WWRP and consider the most effective way to meet the recreation and conservation needs for future generations. Balancing fairness, transparency, and regional diversity while considering funding priorities for future generations are important principles underlying the WWRP. The report to the Legislature is due December 1, 2015.

Given the instructions from the Legislature and the compressed time frame, the review will be focused on several particular items, some of which include:

  • The program design and how projects proceed through the ranking and selection process.
  • How well the current allocation categories and percentages balance the many statewide needs.
  • How well the program serves the needs of smaller and traditionally underserved populations.
  • The ability of the public to access program-funded projects.
  • The ways in which state agencies acquire lands through the program.
  • Acquisition and stewardship costs, timing of land availability compared to funding availability.
  • Other conservation alternatives that could be used by the state.

RCO has contracted with facilitators Jim Waldo and Jane North to assist with the stakeholder process. We will use various methods to engage stakeholders, including some individual interviews, small group meetings, larger group discussions, and surveys or electronic town hall forums. The stakeholder process will begin in September, with the goal of having draft recommendations by late October or early November. RCO will seek input and comments on draft recommendations at that time. A revised set of recommendations will then be forwarded to the Legislature by the December 1 deadline.

As we celebrate the 25 year history of the WWRP and assess the most effective way to continue to meet the future recreation and conservation needs for Washington State, we invite your active participation in the WWRP Review Process. Please feel free to forward this information to others who might be interested. We understand that some of the organizations involved with the WWRP are pulling together committees or surveying their members in order to assist in their participation in the review process. We welcome these efforts and look forward to hearing from as many organizations and individuals as possible. If you have any questions along the way regarding what we’re doing or where we are in the process, please don’t hesitate to contact RCO’s Wendy Brown at wendy.brown@rco.wa.gov  or facilitator Jane North at (561) 531-1421. You may also find additional information on the RCO website.