Application period nears for Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program grants

OLYMPIA — The state Recreation & Conservation Office will begin accepting applications for Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program grants this month.

The grants are to build trails, parks, renovate existing recreation sites, and preserve habitat and working lands.

Applications will be accepted beginning Feb. 15. Some grant applications are due March 1 and others Nov. 1.

The Recreation & Conservation Office (RCO) will host a webinar at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, to give an overview of the grants available and the application process.

To register, go to https://tinyurl.com/PDN-grantwebinar.

New this year is a policy that allows some local governments to reduce the amount of resources they must contribute to projects in two grant programs: the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program and the Youth Athletic Facilities program.

“We listened to local leaders who told us that they often can’t build community parks or trails because they can’t raise the required matching funds,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office.

“With this new policy, certain communities would have their required match reduced, some to as low as 10 percent.”

Four groups of applicants are eligible for the reduced match grants.

They are:

• Communities in Need: Grant applicants in jurisdictions of fewer than 20,000 residents where the median household income (MHI) falls below the state MHI.

• Underserved Populations: Grant applicants in jurisdictions with a MHI less than the state MHI that are applying for projects located in census block groups with a MHI of 70 percent of the state’s median.

• Counties in Need: Grant applicants in counties with a MHI less than 70 percent of the state MHI, which are categorized as “distressed” according to the state Employment Security Department, and have 60 percent or more nontaxable land base.

• Federal Disaster Areas: Grant applicants in jurisdictions within a federally declared disaster area.

Communities can find out if they are eligible for reduced match by checking out RCO’s online resources at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-matchreduction.

To take advantage of the match reduction policy, a community must have an approved plan by March 1 and file its grant application by May 1.

The RCO administers 15 grant programs.

This year, grants are offered for boating facilities, parks and ball fields, shooting ranges, trails, farmland preservation, forestland preservation and wildlife habitat conservation.

For more information, see https://www.rco.wa.gov/.

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