The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Funding Board will dole out $12.6 million in grants for trail-building, beach restoration, and waterfront parks projects across the state.

“Washington is fortunate to have a lot of spectacular outdoor places where people can hike, boat, fish and swim,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office. “These grants help local communities make sure that people can recreate safely by providing trails, waterfront boardwalks, and clean beaches, and that these environmentally sensitive areas are taken care of so they can be enjoyed for generations to come.”

A recent study found that $21.6 billion is spent in the state on recreation trips and equipment each year. $4.6 billion is spent by out-of-state visitors. In addition, the state’s outdoor recreation industry supports almost 200,000 jobs.

The Recreation and Conservation Office is awarding grants for 40 different projects in 19 counties.

Lewis County was awarded $227,750. The money, along with $227,750 in matched donations, will be used by the Lewis County Public Works Department to purchase and develop 1.6 acres of land to provide access to the Cowlitz River near Packwood, upstream of the Skate Creek Road South Bridge. Anglers who currently fish in this area have to walk along dangerous, high-traffic roads and climb down steep banks to get to the river. As part of this project, the county will add a paved parking lot, a restroom, and a gravel path to the water.

Pierce County was awarded a total of $650,000. The City of Lakewood will utilize $500,000 of the funding, plus an additional $700,000, to improve Harry Todd Park, located on 17 acres on the south side of American Lake. Improvements include creating access to the waterfront for people with disabilities, replacing a failing bulkhead, updating fishing access, and enlarging and upgrading the swimming area.

Pierce County Parks and Recreation Services will use the remaining $150,000, plus an additional $150,000, to build a pedestrian bridge over Chambers Creek to connect trails on either side of Chambers Creek Canyon. The county will partner with Lakewood and University Place on the project. Once the bridge is in place, pedestrians will be able to cross the creek without doing damage to crucial salmon habitat.

“Our population is growing and we want to make sure that Washington stays a place that people want to live and establish their businesses. One of the reasons they come here is because of the all the natural beauty we have. It just makes sense to invest in outdoor recreation, which has so many other benefits,” Cottingham said.

The grant funds come from two different programs, the Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account, and the Recreational Trails Program. For more information on individual projects, visit the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Funding Board website.