budget

Keeping people and nature on Olympia's agenda

The Washington State Legislature convened on Monday, January 8, to launch this year’s 60-day legislative session. Despite the short time left between now and the end of session on March 8, lawmakers have a long to-do list.

One major victory, and our top priority for this session, was the passage of a state capital budget. On January 18, lawmakers passed the 2017-2019 capital budget on a near-unanimous vote. Hundreds of projects benefiting the environment and communities statewide can now begin, along with school construction, social services and other projects. Stay tuned to this space to read more in detail about some of the great forest health and floodplain restoration projects that will soon be underway with state capital funding. 

Floodplain restoration is among the environmental priorities within Washington's 2017-19 capital budget. Floodplain projects--such as this effort by the WA Department of Fish and Wildlife to remove an old dike structure and restore snow geese and salmon habitat--benefit wildlife, nature and communities. Photo by Zoe van Duivenbode.

Floodplain restoration is among the environmental priorities within Washington's 2017-19 capital budget. Floodplain projects--such as this effort by the WA Department of Fish and Wildlife to remove an old dike structure and restore snow geese and salmon habitat--benefit wildlife, nature and communities. Photo by Zoe van Duivenbode.

We are excited about the momentum at the highest levels of state government to address climate change in Washington, another major focus of ours this session. Gov. Inslee used his annual State of the State address on January 9 to call upon the Legislature to act on climate by putting a price on carbon pollution, and earlier this month Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz laid out her priorities for combatting climate change. On January 16 a Senate committee heard more than two hours of testimony on a bill to address carbon pollution, including ours, and is expected to vote on the bill by early February. As part of a diverse partnership of nonprofits, businesses, community leaders, health advocates and others advocating for smart climate policy in 2018, we will be working with lawmakers to craft the best possible carbon-pricing policy for Washington. 


Action on climate change is one of four priorities of the Environmental Priorities Coalition, WA organizations advocating for a healthier environment and healthy communities. To sign up for updates and get involved, visit the Environmental Priorities Coalition website. Check out the Town Hall Tool for opportunities to meet your state legislators in your community.

Building upon great policy success for Washington’s forests in 2017, when the legislature doubled its funding for forest health and resilience, we are advocating for legislation supporting thriving forests and forest communities. This includes laws to improve prescribed burning practices and training, protect rural communities, and coordinate cross-agency, cross-boundary forest health work more efficiently.


We continue to advocate for groundbreaking programs and ideas with the potential to transform how Washington deals with chronic environmental challenges.  These include a partnership with the state Department of Ecology and Puget Sound Partnership, Floodplains by Design, as well as innovative projects aimed at solving stormwater runoff for a healthier Puget sound.   

We’re proud to be a voice for nature in Olympia, and we invite you to get involved. To learn more about our policy priorities and stay up to date on our advocacy work sign up for our Government Relations updates.

Banner photo by Hannah Letinich.

Senate Capital Budget Eliminates Programs that Help Nature and People    Statement from Mike Stevens, Washington State Director for The Nature Conservancy Photograph by Bridget Besaw  
 OLYMPIA—The Nature Conservancy released the following statement from its Washington State Director, Mike Stevens, regarding today’s release of the State Senate’s proposed capital budget.
 
  “We are disappointed that the State Senate cut or eliminated so many programs in their proposed capital budget that would have benefited communities and people. Conservation of our state’s lands and waters not only protects wildlife and clean drinking water, but also helps protect our communities from the increasing fires, floods and droughts that our state is already experiencing.”
 
  “We are particularly troubled by the Senate’s proposal to eliminate the Floodplains by Design program, a multi-benefits approach to flood risk reduction, habitat protection and recreational access that helps protect communities against catastrophic flood events in a cost effective way. We have seen this innovative approach transform the way cities, counties and the state do business to the benefit of communities and taxpayers. With the House proposing increased funding in recognition of the program’s effectiveness, we respectfully suggest that the Senate has missed the mark by zeroing out this critical program.”
 
  “Additionally, the Senate’s proposal to remove all habitat projects from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program would set our state back. Our state is attractive to businesses like Amazon and Boeing in part because of the great outdoors, protected in part through the Wildlife and Recreation Program. With Washington’s population exploding over the next decade, it is critical for us to invest early and often in our great outdoors to ensure that our kids and grandkids enjoy the same quality of life and access to the outdoors that we do.”
 
  “We are also concerned about the Senate’s deep cuts to clean water and salmon protection programs like the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Program and the Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program. Slowing the pace of restoration for our state’s waters could set us back.”
 
  “The Senate budget even reduces funding from the Washington Coastal Restoration Initiative from the Houses’ proposal of $8.2 million, a locally driven effort by a coalition of fishermen, local businesses, county commissioners and tribes to restore coastal forests and streams in a region with some of the highest unemployment in the state.”
 
  “We recognize that there were many difficult budget decisions to be made, but these cuts will cost our state more in both the short and long term. Our scientists and field staff in every corner of the state are witnessing the increased impacts of drought, wildfires and flooding on Washington communities, businesses and families. Stepping back from innovative, cost-effective natural solutions right now bodes poorly for our communities and economies. We urge elected leaders to take note and restore funding for these critical programs”

Senate Capital Budget Eliminates Programs that Help Nature and People

Statement from Mike Stevens, Washington State Director for The Nature Conservancy
Photograph by Bridget Besaw

OLYMPIA—The Nature Conservancy released the following statement from its Washington State Director, Mike Stevens, regarding today’s release of the State Senate’s proposed capital budget.

“We are disappointed that the State Senate cut or eliminated so many programs in their proposed capital budget that would have benefited communities and people. Conservation of our state’s lands and waters not only protects wildlife and clean drinking water, but also helps protect our communities from the increasing fires, floods and droughts that our state is already experiencing.”

“We are particularly troubled by the Senate’s proposal to eliminate the Floodplains by Design program, a multi-benefits approach to flood risk reduction, habitat protection and recreational access that helps protect communities against catastrophic flood events in a cost effective way. We have seen this innovative approach transform the way cities, counties and the state do business to the benefit of communities and taxpayers. With the House proposing increased funding in recognition of the program’s effectiveness, we respectfully suggest that the Senate has missed the mark by zeroing out this critical program.”

“Additionally, the Senate’s proposal to remove all habitat projects from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program would set our state back. Our state is attractive to businesses like Amazon and Boeing in part because of the great outdoors, protected in part through the Wildlife and Recreation Program. With Washington’s population exploding over the next decade, it is critical for us to invest early and often in our great outdoors to ensure that our kids and grandkids enjoy the same quality of life and access to the outdoors that we do.”

“We are also concerned about the Senate’s deep cuts to clean water and salmon protection programs like the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Program and the Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program. Slowing the pace of restoration for our state’s waters could set us back.”

“The Senate budget even reduces funding from the Washington Coastal Restoration Initiative from the Houses’ proposal of $8.2 million, a locally driven effort by a coalition of fishermen, local businesses, county commissioners and tribes to restore coastal forests and streams in a region with some of the highest unemployment in the state.”

“We recognize that there were many difficult budget decisions to be made, but these cuts will cost our state more in both the short and long term. Our scientists and field staff in every corner of the state are witnessing the increased impacts of drought, wildfires and flooding on Washington communities, businesses and families. Stepping back from innovative, cost-effective natural solutions right now bodes poorly for our communities and economies. We urge elected leaders to take note and restore funding for these critical programs”