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State seeks public comment on Outdoor Recreation Plan – parks, conservation, changing demographic needs

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(Courtesy of Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office)

Public comments due September 10, 2017.

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Funding Board wants to know what you think the priorities should be for outdoor recreation.

The board has a draft statewide recreation and conservation plan that is meant to be a guide for decision-makers when they prioritize recreation and conservation efforts for the next five years. The plan includes specific priorities and actions to meet the outdoor recreation needs of Washington residents.

“This plan was based on a new survey of Washingtonians. We asked residents what they liked to do outdoors,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, which supports the board and administers state recreation and conservation grant funds. “We know that funding is limited and we want to ensure that we make the most strategic investments possible.”

(Courtesy of Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office)

Specifically, the plan calls for the following:

  • Sustain and grow the legacy of parks, trails and conservation lands. This priority includes five recommendations to sustain existing parks, trails and conservation lands. It also addresses the need to expand opportunities to keep up with the outdoor needs of an increasing population.
  • Improve equity of parks, trail and conservation lands. There are four recommendations to address the needs of traditionally underserved populations as well as a focus on providing opportunities that are in high demand and located where people like to go most.
  • Meet the needs of youth. Providing recreation facilities and programming for youth is the focus of this priority.
  • Plan for culturally relevant parks and trails to meet changing demographics. The demographics of Washington State are changing and the types of recreation activities also are changing. This priority addresses the need to shift resources based on these changing demographics.
  • Position outdoor recreation and conservation as a vital public service. To compete with limited funding, this priority identifies ways to position outdoor recreation and conservation as a service that is on par with other public services like roads, water, sewer and health.

The public can view the draft plan at www.rco.wa.gov/StateRecPlans/. Comments can be submitted directly from the Web site, by e-mailing them to policychanges@rco.wa.gov, or mailing them to Recreation and Conservation Office, P.O. Box 40917, Olympia, WA 98504. Comments are due September 10, 2017.

Staff will analyze the comments and make recommendations for changes to the draft plan at the funding board’s October meeting in Olympia.

(By Susan Zemek)

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