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Recreation and Conservation Funding Board

The Recreation and Conservation Funding Board (formerly known as the Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation [IAC]) supports the development of outdoor recreation and habitat conservation in Washington State.

The RCFB has guided the investment of nearly $550 million in over 3,300 projects throughout the state for parks, trails, water access sites, wildlife habitat, and natural areas.

Although best known for its grant programs, RCFB also provides technical assistance, planning, coordination and advocacy on outdoor recreation and natural resource issues.

The Board consists of eight members composed of three state agency directors and five citizens appointed by the Governor. The Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) is the small state agency that administers the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board, the Salmon Recovery Funding Board (SRFB), the Forum on Monitoring Salmon Recovery and Watershed Health, the Washington Biodiversity Council, and the Invasive Species Council.

Programs administered by the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board include:

Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account (ALEA)

This program increases public recreation, shoreline access, environmental protection and other public benefits associated with state aquatic lands. This is accomplished through grants to public entities.

Projects meeting program objectives typically fall into one of three categories: 1) Providing public access (non-motorized, pedestrian-oriented) public access to water, water-related recreation opportunities, and installation of interpretive signs or displays of aquatic resources; 2) Restoration of critical marine, estuarine, and riverine habitat for federal and state listed species, and 3) Acquisition of land (tideland, freshwater shorelands, uplands, and wetlands) for the purpose of habitat protection or public access.

Tribal, state, and local governments are eligible for grants. All projects must be on or associated with “navigable waters.” Unless specifically excluded, all grant supported properties must be retained for public use in perpetuity, or be replaced with a project of equal or greater value and utility. 

Farmland Preservation Grant Program

In April 2005, the Washington State Legislature established this Farmland Preservation Grant Program to preserve economically viable farmlands and enhance ecological functions on those lands.

Counties and cities may use the grants to preserve viable farmland, enhance the ability of the preserved farmland to provide agricultural production, improve or restore the ecological functions of the preserved farmland, including providing benefits to fish and wildlife.

Counties and cities may use the grants to acquire farmland development rights by purchasing agricultural conservation easements. They also may buy farmland outright "fee simple," place an agricultural easement on the property dedicating the land to agricultural use, and then resell the property to someone who will maintain the property as a working farm. A portion of a grant also may be used for improvements that enhance the agricultural production of the preserved farmland and help restore or enhance ecological functions.

The new Farmland Preservation Program is part of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP). 

Riparian Habitat Protection Grant Program

The Washington State Legislature established this new statewide Riparian Habitat Protection Grant Program in April 2005. The program is aimed at protecting, enhancing, or restoring riparian habitat.

Certain state agencies, local governments, and lead entities created under the Salmon Recovery Act (RCW 77.85) will be eligible to receive grants in the new program. The new grant program is part of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP).

The following can be funded: acquisition of interests in a property (can include purchasing land or acquiring options, rights of first refusal, conservation easements, leases, and mineral rights); enhancement or restoration of property in which an interest is acquired under this program; extension of leases for riparian areas enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP); mitigation banking projects.  

Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP)

The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program provides grants to state agencies or local communities for a broad range of land protection, park development, farmland preservation, habitat conservation, and outdoor recreation activities. It has two goals: to assist with rapid acquisition of the most significant lands for wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation before they are converted to other uses; and to develop existing public recreation lands and facilities to meet present and future needs.

Awards for acquisition or improvement of property fall into four categories: Habitat Conservation, Outdoor Recreation, Riparian Protection, and Farmlands Preservation. Tribal, state, and local governments are eligible for grants. Land trusts and other nonprofits have been successful partners with eligible public agencies.

WWRP requires prospective participants to complete an outdoor recreation/habitat conservation plan. Unless specifically excluded, all properties acquired and all lands developed must remain in the public domain in perpetuity or be replaced with a project of equal or greater value and utility. The program can provide landowners with financial compensation and potential tax benefits in exchange for outright acquisition or long-term conservation easements by a government agency.

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