Parks and rec land can be important to state’s job growth
Growing up in and representing the 42nd Legislative District, rich with outdoor recreation land, I have always felt parks and other recreation land are pivotal to our district and state's overall health and economic vitality. It's important that we not only keep our parks clean but that we also devise new and innovative ways to utilize our stewardship efforts to bolster economic enterprise. That's why I was excited to be appointed to Gov. Jay Inslee's Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation – dedicated to providing strategies to better leverage Washington's recreation land.
The task force is comprised of 28 members and is a public/private/nonprofit partnership that includes members from the Washington Tourism Alliance, the Sierra Club, R.E.I and more. Rep. Steven Tharinger, D-Sequim, and Sens. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, and Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, also serve alongside me on this important panel.
We are tasked with developing a strategic plan that will improve access to state parks and other recreation land, create an attractive environment for employers and help with job growth, and ensure outdoor recreation is incorporated into tourism strategies, among other things. Since the group's first meeting April 9, we've received great feedback from citizens about the different options we can pursue to accomplish the goals of the taskforce.
When I think of the great atmosphere and recreational opportunities our very own Birch Bay Conservancy Area and our Semiahmoo Park offer, which attract tourists from all over Washington and our neighbors in Canada, it's clear to me that dedicating my time to this task force is well worth the work.
Recent findings by the Outdoor Industry Association indicate that Washington outdoor recreation businesses support more than 225,000 jobs and consumer spending on recreation-related gear, lodging and other services. It accounts for $1.6 billion in state and local tax revenue. Not only do we want to keep those jobs here, but we want to increase those numbers, attracting more employers to locate and grow their businesses here. I'll always be in support of creative, common-sense solutions that continue to make Washington more business-friendly.
We face many challenges throughout our state, be that highway congestion, access to water rights and other natural resources, or funding basic education – to name a few. Our hope with this task force is to boost business growth by creating clean and attractive open spaces, known to draw consumers. By having more Washingtonians working, putting money back into our state's economy, we'll have greater resources to tackle the challenges we face as a state.
Needless to say, this important work cannot be accomplished without the input of residents. There are a few ways you can be involved:
· Attend one of the task force's meetings;
· Visit www.engageoutdoorwashington.com to contribute your thoughts to some of the topics the group is currently discussing; and
· Join the task force's mailing list by visiting: http://www.rco.wa.gov/about/mail_list.shtml
You can also always call me directly at 360-786-7854 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org should you have any questions, comments or concerns regarding the work of the task force – or any issue you may be facing in your community.
The task force is scheduled to meet six times between April and September and is expected to present their plan to Gov. Inslee September 14. The next meeting will be in Spokane June 10. For more information about future meeting times and locations, visit http://www.rco.wa.gov/boards/TaskForceMeetings.shtml.
Rep. Vincent Buys represents the 42nd Legislative District in the state Legislature. He serves as the Ranking Republican member on the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
###Washington State House Republican Communications