State budget proposal outlines upgrades for Issaquah trails
April 12, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
Outdoor recreation and wildlife-protection projects in the Issaquah area received a boost in the proposed budget from the state House of Representatives, but hurdles remain before crews can break ground.
The proposed House budget includes a $500,000 Cougar Mountain Park-Precipice Trail grant, for King County to expand Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, create a buffer 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.
Legislators unveiled state capital construction budget April 5. The recreation projects form part of a proposed $50 million appropriation to the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program in the House budget.
Senators should release a proposed budget soon, although the recommended Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program projects could differ from the House choices. Legislators from both chambers and the governor must negotiate to produce a final state budget for 2011-13. The state faces a $5.1 billion shortfall.
Funding is determined using objective criteria, but the formula could change if the state Senate cuts funding for the program or alters the selection criteria.
“I think there is some concern this year that people will pick a different criteria,” said Cynara Lilly, a spokeswoman for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, a nonprofit group set up to support the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program. “The reason why that’s the scariest thing is that once you change the mechanism for how you rank projects, it becomes the kind of thing where people could do pork or earmarks for their districts.”
The program funds high-priority wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation projects throughout the Evergreen State.
Leaders at the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition praised the House proposal.
“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,” Executive Director Joanna Grist said in a statement.
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.