PRESS RELEASE: House of Representatives Budget Prioritizes Funding for Nature, People, Businesses

House of Representatives Budget Prioritizes Funding for Nature, People, Businesses

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

“We appreciate that our state House of Representatives prioritized nature and people in their 2015 proposed capital budget. Conservation of our state’s lands and waters not only yields great dividends for fish, clean water and clean air, but also protects people and communities from flooding and fires and stimulate local economies.”

“For example, the House proposed $8.2 million for the Washington Coastal Restoration Initiative, 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. Through this restoration and jobs initiative, communities up and down the coast get a powerful return on investment: good rural jobs, stronger coastal communities, clean water, healthy forests and sustainable fisheries.”

“We also strongly support the Houses’ proposed $75 million in funding for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, a competitive statewide grant program that protects wildlife habitat, farms and develops state and local parks in every part of the state. Investing in our great outdoors now ensures that future generations will enjoy the same access to Washington’s most iconic places and natural beauty.”

“We are grateful that the House prioritized many key conservation programs in the face of significant budget challenges. We recognize that many difficult budget decisions had to be made. We were disappointed to see that the House only included $5 million for forest health treatments through the Department of Natural Resources. The original $20 million request would invest in Washington forests to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires. We hope that the Senate will fund the request in full.”

Key conservation successes in the House’s capital budget include:

$43 million for the Department of Ecology’s new Floodplains by Design program, an innovative approach to reducing flood risks for communities and businesses while enhancing fish habitat and providing recreational opportunities

  • $5 million to provide a state match for the federal Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which encourages partners to join in efforts with producers to increase the restoration and sustainable use of ag lands and natural resources
  • $40 million for the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Fund to restore critical habitat and salmon populations to Puget Sound
  • $10 million for the Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program, which protects and restores estuaries, bays and shorelines to ensure that they are intact, functioning and resilient to climate

“As our climate changes, our scientists and field staff continue to report greater impacts to Washington communities and businesses through flooding, wildfires and drought. Now is a critical time for our state to invest in cost-effective natural systems and innovative approaches to protecting communities and supporting local economies. We are grateful that the House of Representatives recognized the critical need for such investments and hope that Senate budget writers follow their lead.”

Contact Information

Tom Bugert

Government Relations Associate