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The mission  of the Big Tent  is to promote sustainable, diverse, equitable, and inclusive outdoor experiences in Washington state through advocacy and education.

#RecreateResponsibly to Protect Yourself, Others, and the Outdoors

During this public health crisis, spending time in outdoor spaces has become even more important for many Americans. Yet these unusual circumstances mean that all of us, from seasoned outdoor enthusiasts to families heading out to their local park for the first time, could use a little guidance about how to stay safe. The Recreate Responsibly guidelines offer a starting point for getting outside to keep yourself healthy and to maintain access to our parks, trails, and beaches. [ LEARN MORE ]



We Represent Outdoor Recreation

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Preliminary Draft Framework for WWRP Recommendations to the Legislature

We want to thank all of you who have participated in the WWRP Review Process for your time, input, and commitment to critically reviewing the WWRP, and for your suggestions for improving Washington’s nationally recognized habitat conservation and outdoor recreation program.  As you know, the Washington Legislature directed the Recreation Conservation Office (RCO) by proviso in the 2015-2017 Capital Budget to convene a stakeholder process to provide a critical review and analysis of the WWRP, and to make recommendations to the legislature by December 1, 2015. View Draft WWRP Recommendations

Selected as facilitators by RCO, we began work designing the WWRP process in mid-August 2015.  From the beginning, we recognized that the time and budgetary constraints to accomplish the objectives outlined in the budget proviso were significant.  Yet, the participation from individuals, organizations, legislators, state agencies, grantees and RCO staff was strong and committed. It was challenging to reach out to all of the potential stakeholders of the WWRP, and we still have more contacts to make. 

By way of summary, we want to identify some of the significant contributions to the WWRP Review Process over the past two months.  Legislators and key staff who we contacted provided us with frank and direct input that helped shape the process.  Members of the Governor’s staff attended meetings and provided support to RCO and State agencies in identifying issues and concerns.

The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition (WWRC) surveyed its members and provided us with some Guiding Principles to help develop the recommendations.  The Washington Recreation and Parks Association also surveyed its members and submitted their written recommendations. Through the Big Tent Coalition, recreation organizations and others provided input through their participation in meetings, survey responses, and follow-up communications.

The Washington State Association of Counties (WSAC) and Association of Washington Cities (AWC) invited local government participation in meetings and interviews. They also identified issues and concerns that helped guide us through the WWRP Review Process.  WSAC helped organize a Payment-in-lieu of taxes (PILT) review meeting, which was held in Ellensburg and included elected officials, agency staff, and stakeholder organizations. Although outside the WWRP Review Process, this PILT meeting was informative and helpful in our understanding the significant County concerns about the WWRP.

The Trust for Public Lands (TPL) and the Nature Conservancy (TNC) met with us and participated in our two Roundtable Review Meetings: September 29 in Tacoma and November 3 in Wenatchee.  The Washington Association of Land Trusts (WALT) invited their members to participate through meetings, interviews, and responses to surveys.

The Washington State Conservation Commission facilitated a Farmlands Preservation Roundtable Discussion on September 9 in Olympia, which included county staff from King, Pierce, Snohomish and Whatcom counties and several land trusts. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Washington State Parks (Parks), and RCO participated in state agency meetings to help us better understand each agency’s perspective on WWRP.  Senior staff participated actively in Roundtable Review meetings and helped develop recommendations to improve partnerships with local governments, and formulate a state strategy for cohesive and transparent planning processes for WWRP applicants. 

We were invited to facilitate a WWRP Review Session at the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board (RCFB) meeting on September 16.  Individual RCFB Board members continued to participate in Roundtable Review meetings, surveys, and organizational meetings to help develop recommendations. Jane North attended a WWRC Board meeting and facilitated a WWRP Review discussion with Board members. Jane appreciated the sage and frank input from founding Board members, who guided her understanding of the significant legacy of WWRP to the state of Washington.

RCO developed a stakeholder survey to gather observations, opinions, ideas and recommendations from people that have been involved in the WWRP in order to identify issues and a range of possible actions. RCO emailed links to an online questionnaire on September 15, 2015 to over 4,000 WWRP stakeholders listed in the RCO PRISM database. In addition, some stakeholder organizations distributed the survey to their members through email and newsletters. At the close of the survey on October 18, 2015, 485 responses had been received.  Over 3,000 additional comments were received. 

Almost without exception, everyone who has provide input through the WWRP process, including stakeholders who have concerns about acquisition of habitat conservation lands and development of outdoor recreation, has expressed respect for the fairness, transparency, and integrity of the WWRP grant evaluation process.  The challenges for the future are to address the concerns of the legislature and others by identifying recommendations to evaluate the needs and the opportunities to preserve, protect, and restore unique and significant places as fish and wildlife habitat, provide outdoor recreation for all citizens, and protect public access to these places. 

As facilitators, our hope is that the individuals and organizations who have worked over 25 years to create, build, and maintain this program will continue to provide feedback on the draft framework for recommendations going forward. By examining the WWRP critically and recommending changes where appropriate to meet the identified revisions to strengthen the program, the recommendations and report to the legislature is an opportunity to help establish a blueprint for the future of the WWRP. 

We invite you to comment on this preliminary draft framework for recommendations through e-mail or by telephone. We request that you communicate your feedback on the draft framework on or before 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 12. Changes should be communicated to Jane North at jane_north@msn.com or 561-531-1421. 

Big Tent Outdoor Recreation Coalition
120 State Avenue NE, #303
Olympia, WA 98501

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