The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office awarded nearly $190 million in grants to communities statewide on July 18 to improve outdoor recreation and to conserve important wildlife habitats for Washingtonians and the plants and animals in the state.
Grants were awarded to a variety of organizations to renovate parks, build trails and create new places for people to recreate outdoors. The grants also made investments in conserving lands that are homes to plants and animals at risk of extinction and that preserve Washington’s agricultural and forestry legacy, such as important working farms and forests.
“These grants advance our priority to protect Washington’s world-class outdoor recreation offerings enjoyed by locals and travelers from across the globe,” said Gov. Jay Inslee in a written statement. “I’m proud of these investments. They will go a long way to ensuring Washington’s outdoor areas are healthy, open and usable by everyone.”
The list of grant awards and descriptions of each project include more than $24 million for projects across King County which include:
• $681,903 to replace a restroom at the Redondo Boat Launch in Des Moines: The City of Des Moines will use this grant to replace the Redondo boat launch restroom with one in the parking lot across Redondo Beach Drive. The City also will add a boat wash station, landscape, and make minor parking lot improvements to accommodate the new restroom. The new restroom is in a location that is less affected by tides and earthquake concerns than the current, over-water location.
• $475,000 to buy land for a trailhead at Mill Creek Canyon Park in Kent: The City of Kent will use this grant to buy 2.25 acres for a trailhead park at the south end of Mill Creek Canyon Park. Buying the land fulfills a long-term goal of creating a pedestrian connection from downtown to the East Hill of Kent. Additionally, this location provides an important anchor for the Mill Creek Canyon trail system. The City will buy the land, demolish a residence and septic system, and grade the site for use as a public open space park.
• $500,000 to renovate Springwood Park in Kent: The City of Kent will use this grant to redevelop the 10-acre Springwood Park on the Southeast hill of Kent. This park was developed initially in 1992 by King County and transferred to Kent in 1996. The City will expand the children’s play area and add walking paths, a community gathering space, a shelter, picnic tables, open lawns, barbecue grills, stormwater infrastructure, a sports court, and benches. Kent will reportedly contribute $2.5 million to the project.
• $3 million to renovate Luther Burbank Park’s Waterfront in Mercer Island: The City of Mercer Island will use three grants to renovate the waterfront in Luther Burbank Park. The City will replace the portion of the park dock that serves power boats on Lake Washington. The dock was built in 1974 and needs extensive repairs to meet the needs of small powerboat recreators. The City will install a ten-foot-wide concrete floating dock with two finger piers designed to lessen the force of boat wakes that have damaged the current dock. The city will also install a floating dock for non-motorized small craft, overwater stairs, a viewing deck and outdoor classroom, and restrooms. Finally, the City will expand the cobble beach with a route accessible to people with disabilities, pave the plaza, and add furnishings, landscaping, signs, and art.
• $350,000 to build pickleball courts in Talbot Hill Reservoir Park in Renton: The City of Renton will use this grant to design and improve tennis and pickleball courts in Talbot Hill Reservoir Park, which is 1.5 miles south of downtown near the interchange of Interstate 405 and State Route 167. The courts are the only dedicated pickleball courts in the city, but are in poor condition, with slopes, lack of barriers between the court backlines, and pooling water that creates slippery conditions. The City will convert a tennis court to two pickleball courts and improve drainage and the court surface on the existing pickleball courts. The City also will install fencing, a covered seating area, a water fountain, a bike rack, benches, garbage containers, and paddle holders.
• $325,000 to build trails connecting to North Bend: The Department of Natural Resources will use this grant to design and build four miles of trail and fourteen small trail bridges that will connect North Bend to the Raging River State Forest Trail system in King County. The new trail will link Tennant Trailhead Park to Snoqualmie Point Park and the Raging River State Forest Trail system. The trails are used for mountain biking, gravel biking, trail running, and walking.
• $4,042,562 to expand Natural Resources Conservation Areas in King County: The Department of Natural Resources will use this grant to buy 38 acres at Mount Si, 330 acres at Middle Fork Snoqualmie, and 114 acres at West Tiger Mountain Natural Resources Conservation Areas in east King County. The goal is to conserve land in the Mountains to Sound Greenway that provides crucial habitat and is highly threatened by residential development. The greenway is a 100-mile landscape of forests, wildlife habitat, and open areas along Interstate 90, a National Scenic Byway. The conservation areas’ distinctive features include talus, high-elevation lakes, streams, wetlands, old-growth and mature forests, cliffs, and landscape connections for wildlife. Large mammals known to use the conservation areas include cougars, bobcats, mountain goats, black bears, coyotes, and elk. Red-tailed hawks, ospreys, barred owls, pygmy owls, and pileated woodpeckers have also been observed.
• $1,687,770 to conserve Green River Gorge: State Parks will use this grant to buy about 52 acres of the Icy Creek Ridge in the Green River Gorge Conservation Area, near Black Diamond in King County. State Parks plan to use the land for a trail along the South rim of the gorge, from Kanaskat-Palmer State Park to Flaming Geyser State Park. This land is reportedly some of the last needed before trail development will be possible. The landowner has platted the area into fourteen building sites for houses and developed roads. Purchase of the land will prevent this development and the road will provide access for a future trailhead for the South Rim Trail. The landowner is a willing seller. The Washington State Legislature established the Green River Gorge Conservation Area in 1969 and directed State Parks to begin buying land along the river.
The outlined state grants also include a handful of projects to study and maintain sites in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
For more information on the grants, visit: https://rco.wa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/NEWS-268-RecGrantDescriptions.pdf