State proposal outlines upgrades for Issaquah trails

April 7, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 10 a.m. April 7, 2011

Outdoor recreation and wildlife-protection projects in the Issaquah area received a boost in the proposed budget from the state House of Representatives.

The proposed budget includes a $500,000 Cougar Mountain Park-Precipice Trail grant, for King County to expand Cougar Mountain Park and to create a buffer to prevent pending development and create a gateway from Issaquah to the park.

(King County acquired additional land for the park late last year.)

Funds from the $500,000 East Lake Sammamish Trail grant could help King County expand and pave the trail along the lake from Redmond to Issaquah.

The proposal includes a $317,000 Duthie Hill Park trailhead development grant to enable the county to expand the trailhead at the popular mountain-biking destination.

Bridges along Tiger Mountain State Forest trails could also be replaced using the $247,870 proposed for trail upgrades in the forest.

The proposed funding for the half-dozen projects amounts to $2.18 million. The list also includes dollars for Covington and Snoqualmie Valley projects. The projects form part of a proposed $50 million appropriation to the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program.

The program funds high-priority wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation projects across the Evergreen State.

Funding is determined using objective, scientifically based criteria. However, the grants could be put at risk if the state Senate cuts funding for the program or alters the selection criteria. Legislators and the governor must negotiate to produce a final state budget for 2011-13.

Representatives unveiled the funding proposal Tuesday.

Leaders at the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, a nonprofit group set up to support the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, praised the House decision.

“We are thrilled to see that the House of Representatives understands the critical role that preservation projects like [this one] play in local communities across the state,” Joanna Grist, Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition executive director, said in a statement. “WWRP projects help maintain critical habitat for wildlife, protect our waterways and ensure that outdoor recreation can continue to be major source of income in rural communities across the state.”

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