State Senate recommends leaner budget for trails

April 19, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

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

Senators released a budget proposal April 12, 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.

Under the program, local governments, nonprofit organizations and other groups submit projects to the state Recreation and Conservation Office.

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.

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 the objective process is a national model for funding recreation projects.

“If the state’s going to invest this money, we want them to fund only the best projects, not just those that are politically expedient,” she said.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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