Last week, Washington Wild signed onto a letter alongside 19 other outdoor organizations and businesses in support of Governor Inslee’s 2023-25 operating budget request of $10.7 million to manage recreation on state land.
Pressure on our public lands and waters is only expected to increase due to a growing interest in outdoor recreation and a rising state population. In response to these trends, the public, agencies, Tribal governments, and stakeholders have voiced valid concerns about the impact of increased visitation on natural and cultural resources.
Coordinated by The Mountaineers, the letter addressed several key members of the legislature laying out specific tools and resources the funding would provide. This budget request—the result of a thoughtful, data-informed approach in consultation with Tribal governments—addresses these shared concerns with just and durable solutions.
Funding Important Tools and Resources
Emphasis on Collaborative, Adaptive Management
The Governor’s budget includes provisos directing State Parks, DNR, and DFW to work jointly to develop a cohesive and collaborative framework for assessing, monitoring, and adaptively managing recreational impacts on the ecological condition of state land. Additionally, the development of these tools will require these state agencies to “collaborate with tribal governments to ensure cultural resources and cultural practices are considered and incorporated into management plans.” Funding will also be provided for Tribes and stakeholders to pilot frameworks and methodologies and the power to make needed adaptations, including internal agency planning, surveying, and data management.
Currently, DNR has 12 officers covering 5.6 million acres of DNR-managed land and aquatic reserves. This is equivalent to two agency officers covering an area the size of Rhode Island. DNR enforcement addresses public safety concerns, protects Tribal cultural resources, and prevents illegal activities. Funding to hire additional law enforcement officers will allow DNR to better protect our public lands, waters, and cultural resources.
Establishing a Recreation Plan
Funding will provide DNR with the time and resources needed to establish a long-term outdoor access and recreation plan. This plan will set clear goals and measure outcomes for safe, responsible public access and recreation use on DNR lands and waters.
First Foods Program
Working in partnership with Tribes, DNR will establish a First Foods pilot program to promote traditional foods and Indigenous agricultural or harvest practices. Public recreation can negatively impact Tribal access to first foods, compounding the loss of access to traditional food sources due to decades of development and land use. The First Foods program would work to minimize recreational impact, as well as celebrate and promote Indigenous practices.