Never heard of the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office? Well, chances are you’ve hiked a trail, played in a park or enjoyed a public beach made possible with RCO funding.
The RCO celebrated its 50th year with little fanfare today.
Since 1964, the RCO has grown from a small agency administering three grant programs to one that handles 15 grant programs, five boards and offices, and the fourth-largest capital budget of any state agency.
Its mandate is fairly broad: create parks, trails and other recreation areas, conserve wildlife habitat and working farms, and bring salmon back from the brink of extinction.
RCO has invested nearly $2 billion in about 8,500 projects around the state.
This year, about $21 million went to Kitsap County to fund more than 30 projects.
Here are a few:
- The purchase of the Port Gamble Shoreline Block property
- Point No Point wetland restoration
- New playground at Bremerton’s Evergreen Park
- Harper Pier reconstruction
- Carpenter Creek estuary acquisition
- Expansion of Gazzam Lake Preserve on Bainbridge
“This kind of investment in Washington’s quality of life is really unique in the nation,” RCO director Kaleen Cottingham said in a statement. “Most other states don’t have a comparable state agency. By consolidating these recreation, conservation and restoration grant programs in one agency, Washington is able to run fair, non-political evaluation processes that ensures the best projects are funded.”
For more about the RCO, head to their website, rco.wa.gov.