Legislators preserve dollars for Issaquah outdoor recreation projects

May 26, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 10:30 a.m. May 26, 2011

Plans to acquire land for a Cougar Mountain trail and upgrade trail bridges in Tiger Mountain State Forest received a last-minute boost from state lawmakers before a special legislative session ended Wednesday night.

Before sending the $32 billion budget to Gov. Chris Gregoire, legislators allocated $42 million to the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program for more than 50 projects statewide. In addition to the Issaquah Alps projects, lawmakers directed funds to Duthie Hill Park and the East Lake Sammamish Trail.

The proposed budget recommends $500,000 for King County to acquire land for Precipice Trail near Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park and $247,870 to upgrade Tiger Mountain trail bridges. In addition, the proposal recommends $500,000 for the county’s East Lake Sammamish Trail project and $317,477 for county-run Duthie Hill Park.

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

“It was a long and difficult session, but in the end everyone worked together for a common good,” coalition Executive Director Joanna Grist said in a statement. “We are incredibly thankful that both the Senate and the House recognize not only the importance of funding conservation projects and maintaining our heritage, but also in maintaining the integrity of the WWRP.”

Former Govs. Dan Evans and Mike Lowry formed the coalition to advocate for funding for outdoors recreation and wildlife habitat.

“I want to applaud the House and Senate leadership, Democrats and Republicans alike, for coming together on this issue,” Evans said in a statement. “Funding conservation projects is an important part of maintaining our heritage and way of life in Washington state.”

“Twenty-two years ago, when we founded this coalition, we wanted to create a program that serves generations of Washingtonians to come.” Lowry added. “I join communities around the state in thanking the legislature for these vital recreation and conservation projects which are so important to our quality of life and our economy.”

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