A number of recreation and conservation efforts within the Nisqually Watershed will receive a portion of nearly $126 million in grants announced earlier this week by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Funding Board.
“At a time when public lands are more and more at risk of being developed or lost altogether, these grants prioritize our outdoor spaces so that current and future generations can continue to enjoy and protect them,” Gov. Jay Inslee said Tuesday, July 2, in a media release.
Projects include the renovation of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Nisqually Handicap Water Access Site, an easement to preserve forestry and stream flow in the Busy Wild Creek Forest, prairie preservations on 189 acres ofland near the Mima Mounds Natural Area and an effort by the Department of Natural Resources to conserve grassland and oak woodland habitats in the Bald Hills area and other South Sound prairies.
Roughly $3.75 million in grants will go toward local conservation and recreation efforts. Thurston County was awarded $12.35 million overall, second only to King County’s $13.46 million.
The state Recreation and Conservation Funding Board, established by voters in 1964, helps finance recreation and conservation projects throughout the state, according to a media release. The board consists of eight members, five of whom are citizens appointed by the governor and state agencies.
In a media release, Chairman Ted Willhite said the board is one of the state’s largest investors in funding outdoor recreation and conservation efforts.
Nearly 333 projects within 37 of the state’s 39 counties will receive funding from grants awarded this year. Revenue comes from a mix of federal grants, state bonds, gas taxes and other fees.
Renovations at the Nisqually Handicap Water Access Site are expected to be extensive. WDFW will use the $290,000 grant to install a new toilet, renovate the pathways, repair fishing rails and access site foundations, and install new fencing and wheel stops.
The site can be found off Sixth Avenue near the tail end of the Nisqually River.
A $3 million grant awarded to the WDFW will be used to purchase 900 acres of prairie, oak woodland, wetland and streambank with hopes of enhancing recreation around southern Puget Sound prairies. Another $434,375 was awarded to DNR with hopes of restoring South Sound prairie lands including the Bald Hills area.
Restoration efforts in the South Sound prairies will work on reintroducing native seeds into the area and warding off invasive species in the areas.
The Nisqually Land Trust was the recipient of $350,000 of funds to preserve the Busy Wild Creek Forest. Funds will be used to purchase a voluntary land preservation agreement to conserve timberlands along the Mashel River, the main tributary to the Nisqually river.
Nearly $2.7 million of grant funding will help the DNR with enhancing the Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve. DNR will use the grant to purchase 189 acres of prairie, woodland and streambank habitats near the preserve.
“This preserve is one of the largest intact prairie sites left in western Washington and includes the last, best example of mounded prairie in the state,” according to information from the project.
To view all the grants and projects, visit rco.wa.gov/documents/press/2019/PSARGrantDescriptions2019.pdf.