Some environmental victories

In the interests of positive reenforcement, let’s take the opportunity here to make note of some legislative successes by lawmakers, even as they plod on with their third special session to come to some final agreements related to budgets and education.

Specific to parks, open spaces and the environment, the victories, if not overwhelming, are significant, meaningful and appreciated. In passing the state’s capital improvement budget, the Legislature demonstrated its recognition of the value in making investments that offer short- and long-term benefits.

Among the programs funded in the budget:

$35.5 million will go toward the Department of Ecology’s Floodplains by Design grant program, a public-private partnership that funds projects to reduce flooding risks, restore habitat and prioritize improvements to clean water, agriculture and recreation along the state’s major river corridors.

Two years ago, one of the projects funded by a similar investment reduced the flood risk for the city of Orting along the Puyallup River by reconnecting side channels, moving back levees to double the width of the river and creating log jams to protect shorelines. Future projects have been identified for King, Jefferson and Kittitas counties.

$10 million has been put toward the state Department of Natural Resources efforts to reduce wildfire hazards throughout the state. Recognizing the increase in devastation from recent wildfires, including last summer’s massive Carlton Complex fire, the department had hoped to see $20 million to thin state-managed forestlands of aging and diseased trees that can fuel wildfires and encourage homeowners to thin their own properties and remove brush from near structures. While half of what was sought, the funding represents the largest single increase for that program ever made by the Legislature.

And $55 million was allocated for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, funding that is used to match other public and private funds to establish and improve new local and state parks, protect wildlife habitat and preserve working farms. The Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, which administers the program, as it has every two years for the last 25 years, submitted a prioritized list of projects for the funding consideration of lawmakers. It wasn’t the full $97 million that the coalition initially sought, but considering the budget battles this year, we can accept some concessions as necessary to compromise.

Locally, some of this year’s funding will be used for new athletic fields at Kasch Park in Everett; and preservation of the Hooven Bog conservation area, south of Maltby.

The larger victory for the program, however, was in maintaining how the list of projects is administered. Earlier in the session, some in the state Senate wanted to throw out the scoring system the coalition uses to prioritize project. Seeking to cure what it saw as a backlog of park maintenance projects, some senators sought to cherry-pick projects, discarding land acquisitions that are necessary to the creation of future parks and habitat areas. That change was avoided, and the coalition’s method for ranking its list was respected.

Each of these might seem to be minor victories, but their cumulative effect will prove significant in limiting damage from floods and wildfires, preserving habitat and promoting recreation.

Talk to us

More in Opinion

Editorial cartoons for Wednesday, Jan. 19

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Editorial: Keep ‘Mockingbird’ on Mukilteo ninth-graders’ list

Concerns about the 1960 novel are legitimate, but allow students to learn from those criticisms.

Comment: What a ICU doctor tells a patient as covid advances

Medical staff can do everything in their power to save lives; too often, covid can do more to take lives.

Strong schools mean strong community; vote for Everett levies

We are proud parents of two students in the Everett Public Schools.… Continue reading

Change filibuster to put senators’ votes on record

I was taught in school that the six-year term of a U.S.… Continue reading

Fans should support Seattle Kraken as the team builds

When it comes to the Seattle Kraken and their first year in… Continue reading

Comment: Cannabis rules slow research into covid treatments

While legal in many states, marijuana research is hampered by its federal Schedule I classification.

Comment: Putin may see invasion as key to his popular support

The Russian president saw his flagging support boosted following the invasion of Crimea in 2014.

Editorial cartoons for Tuesday, Jan. 18

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Most Read