State Senate recommends leaner budget for Issaquah trails

April 14, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 4 p.m. April 14, 2011

The state Senate proposed a less-generous budget for Issaquah-area outdoor recreation projects than the state House of Representatives.

Senators released a budget proposal Tuesday night, a week after legislators from the other chamber recommended $2.18 million to upgrade trails and recreation areas.

Senators proposed reductions of more than $600,000 for local projects, trimming a Cougar Mountain trail project to $127,000 from the $500,000 recommended by the House and reducing Duthie Hill Park trailhead development to $55,000 from the $317,000 recommended by the House.

Lawmakers from both chambers agreed on Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program funding for the other Issaquah-area projects.

Senators also recommended $247,870 to build bridges on Tiger Mountain State Forest trails, plus $500,000 to pave East Lake Sammamish Trail from Redmond to Issaquah.

Both proposals include dollars for Covington and Snoqualmie Valley projects.

Funding for the projects remains uncertain until legislators from both chambers and the governor negotiate a final state budget. The state faces a $5.1 billion shortfall for 2011-13.

Funding for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program is determined using objective criteria. The program funds high-priority wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation projects throughout the Evergreen State.

“It is commendable that both the House and the Senate recognize the role that outdoor recreation and wildlife preservation plays in our state’s economy,” Joanna Grist, executive director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, a nonprofit group set up to support the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, said in a release. “However by changing the criteria to fit a political need, the Senate proposal destroys the faith of project applicants in the grant process and unfairly supports earmarks over well ranked projects.”

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