From Blanchard Mountain with its waterfront views in west Skagit County to Snowy Lakes in the easternmost reach of the county, the state Recreation and Conservation Funding Board is providing about $2 million for recreation improvement projects.
“The funding creates more places to play, expands habitat for fish and other wildlife, supports clean air and water, and upholds healthy communities across Washington state and improves our quality of life,” Kaleen Cottingham, director at the Recreation and Conservation Office that administers the grants, said in a news release.
The grants awarded for projects in Skagit County are part of a $126 million package for 2019-21. Here, the funding will support development of sports fields, trailheads, lake access and campgrounds on state, county and local lands.
Some funding will also go toward supporting state Department of Natural Resources law enforcement on area public lands, and toward multicounty projects that could include work in Skagit County, such as along the Pacific Crest and Pacific Northwest national scenic trails, and in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
The grants were awarded through seven grant programs, according to the release, which are supported by a mix of federal grants, the sale of state bonds, gas taxes and public lands user fees.
The 10 projects specific to Skagit County include work at the county’s Northern State Recreation Area to further develop a park dedicated to veterans that is years in the making.
Skagit County Parks and Recreation was awarded nearly $300,000 for that project, which will include building parking, a restroom, a picnic area and an interpretive trail.
Projects also include revitalizing Sedro-Woolley’s Winnie Houser Park and renovating Skagit County’s sports field complex in Mount Vernon.
On state lands, about $500,000 was awarded to the state Department of Fish & Wildlife to redevelop access to Lake Cavanaugh with a new boat launch, parking lot, restroom and dock.
Funding was also awarded to the state Department of Natural Resources for trail and campground maintenance in the Blanchard, Harry Osborne and Walker Valley state forests.
One of the smallest grants, at about $20,000, will be used to install restrooms, a trail and a hitch rail for horses at Snowy Lake in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. According to the award description, this backcountry location on the border of Skagit and Okanogan counties has become so popular with backpackers that it is at risk of damage to the natural resources — an issue the project aims to address.