- About WRPA
- Professional Development
Recreation and Conservation Office Grants & Contracts
Cabinet Briefing - 2016 Transition
As a responsible steward of public funds, RCO works with its partners to protect and improve the best of Washington’s natural and outdoor recreational resources, enhancing the quality of life for current and future generations.
AGENCY RESPONSIBILITIES AND CORE SERVICES
The Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) is an exemplary grant management agency that provides leadership on vital natural resource, outdoor recreation, and salmon recovery issues.
In doing this RCO:
Supports the work of several boards:
Manages 21 grant programs that provide millions of dollars to local, state, federal, tribal, and nonprofit organizations for outdoor recreation facilities, critical wildlife habitats, farmland and forestland conservation, and flood control. The grants distribute state and federal money through competitive processes using criteria established by RCO’s funding boards. RCO not only manages the process of selecting projects, but also oversee the contracts through the life of each project and monitors the commitments to Washington State for ongoing retention of the facilities and sites.
Coordinates the development of the State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP), the document that helps decision-makers and recreation providers prioritize the acquisition, renovation, and development of recreational resources statewide and ensure the state’s eligibility for federal grants through the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Supports the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office (GSRO), which coordinates the work of other state, local, and tribal entities to recover salmon populations in Washington State to a healthy, harvestable level, and to improve the habitats upon which salmon rely. RCO is responsible for producing the biennial State of Salmon and Watersheds report.
RCO also is responsible for completing plans, studies, and projects as directed by the Governor and the
Legislature, such as the Public Lands Inventory, Economic Analysis of Outdoor Recreation in Washington State, Review of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, and Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation.
RCO is a small state agency consisting of 55 staff housed in Olympia. A majority of the staff are grants managers who provide hands-on assistance to organizations requesting or receiving grants. Grants are managed through the agency-developed, Web-based Project Information System (PRISM). This system is open to the public to apply for grants, review information on funded grants, and produce reports about projects. PRISM provides:
One of RCO’s biggest roles is fiscal accountability. RCO’s chief financial officer and fiscal team are key to providing oversight and accountability for the expenditure of state and federal funds. The remaining staff support the boards by developing and updating policy recommendations for their consideration, communicate activities with the public and partners, and provide office support operations. Additional agency information can be found at http://www.rco.wa.gov/about/index.shtml
RCO’s combined operating and capital budget for 2015-17 (including the supplemental and reappropriated capital funds) is $477 million. RCO has two programs:
The sale of state general obligation bonds funds the capital program, which RCO uses to fund its grant programs for recreation, conservation, and salmon recovery. The capital program also contains funding for a small amount of administration. RCO bases its budget and degree of administrative function on the appropriation for the grant programs. The operating program also funds some grant programs. For example, dedicated state revenues, including a portion of the gasoline tax and vehicle registration fees, support specific recreation facilities for boaters and trail users. The state General Fund (which is 0.35 percent of the RCO budget) supports the director, the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office, the Salmon Recovery Funding Board, and pass-through funding for the regional and watershed-based salmon recovery organizations. Federal funds, also distributed via grants, support salmon recovery as well as some recreation grant programs.
EXECUTIVE ORDER COMPLIANCE
Of the 23 executive orders issued under Governor Jay Inslee, RCO is complying with 12 through changes in office procedures, updates in policies, and active participation in meetings and/or committees. The remaining 11 do not apply to the RCO.
MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENTS SINCE 2013
RCO Celebrates its 50th Anniversary
In 2014, RCO celebrated its 50th anniversary. It was in November 1964 that voters approved Initiative 215 establishing the Marine Recreation Lands Act, which created our agency to administer the marine fuel tax investments.
Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation was created and made recommendations to the Governor
Gov. Jay Inslee established the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation through Executive Order 14-01. The directive was to develop an action plan and recommendations to manage, transform, better leverage, or develop Washington’s outdoor recreation assets and state programs to increase outdoor recreation activities as well as promote the jobs and business associated with outdoor recreation.
The task force journeyed around the state, listened to hundreds of people, and reviewed thousands of comments submitted via e-mail and through an online town hall. The task force submitted its final report to the Governor in September 2014. Some recommendations from the task force have been implemented by the Legislature, including: the hiring of a recreation policy advisor in the Governor’s Office and funding several recreation programs, such as State Parks’ No Child Left Inside grant program. Additionally, some tax provisions were modified relating to gas tax-funded recreation grant programs.
Economic Analysis of Outdoor Recreation in Washington State
The Legislature requested a report to quantify the economic contributions to the state’s economy from public lands and outdoor recreation. The report found that, each year, Washingtonians and visitors spend $21.6 billion on outdoor recreation, supporting many different businesses. Outdoor recreation not only creates jobs and builds businesses, it cuts health care costs, brings families closer together, helps kids learn in school, and protects the environment. To quantify some of the non-market values, the report looked at the value of ecosystem services provided on public recreation lands – clean water, habitat for wildlife, aesthetic beauty, and enhanced recreational experiences. The combined value of these nonmarket benefits is between $134 billion and $248 billion a year. This report was the first comprehensive analysis of the recreation economy in Washington. The complete economic analysis and the We’ll Go Far Outside brochure on the agency Web page at www.rco.wa.gov/doc_pages/other_pubs.shtml.
Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program Updated
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) is RCO’s largest grant program and funds a variety of recreation and conservation projects. The legislature directed the RCO to conduct a facilitated review of the program. The review resulted in 11 recommendations that included simplifying the allocation formula, reducing the required percentage of funds going towards land acquisition in several categories, and providing incentives to underserved communities. The RCO proposed legislation (SSB 6227) to update the WWRP statute, which passed with overwhelming support during the 2016 legislative session.
RCO strives to be an innovative agency. It has received many acknowledgements for our state of the art technology systems, including our grant management system (called PRISM), State of the Salmon in Watersheds report, Habitat Work Schedule database, and the agency’s easy to navigate Web site. Much has changed since 2013 including the following:
Projects funded from July 1, 2013-June 30 2016
STRATEGIC PRIORITIES FOR UPCOMING YEAR Agency-wide
Recreation and Conservation Funding Board
Recreation Program, the agency’s largest grant program
Salmon Recovery Funding Board
Work to secure state and federal funding to provide for the continued implementation of the bottom-up approach to fund essential salmon recovery projects
Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office
Washington Invasive Species Council
Review and update the 50 top priority species list, which is the list of the invasive species that pose the greatest threat to the state’s environment, economy, and human health.
KEY PERFORMANCE GOALS
RCO rallies around three organizing principles: Fair and accountable grant management, leadership, and innovative support services. RCO’s work plan is a compilation of the larger efforts the agency will undertake during the current biennium to meets its organizing principles and goals as follows:
RCO is looking continuously for improvement opportunities (LEAN) within its processes and tasks. The leading indicators that are part of RCO’s LEAN efforts are identified in the work plan. View the complete strategic plan.
RCO works to continually build strong working relationships and strategic partnerships with recreation, conservation, and salmon recovery advocacy groups; associations; federal, state, and local agencies; tribes; and other partners and constituents.
To assist the agency with its work, some of our key strategic partners include:
Agency-wide local, state, and federal partners:
TRANSITION CONTACT: Kaleen Cottingham
Below you will see the text of a notice sent Monday by Recreation & Conservation Office (RCO) Executive Director Kaleen Cottingham to all local parks agencies that have a grant agreement with RCO. We wanted you to be aware that RCO has a legal obligation to provide agencies with this contingency information in lieu of a negotiated Capital Budget for 2015-17.
While it is overwhelmingly likely that negotiators will finalize a budget before July 1, the RCO has to be begin making contingency plans. Similarly, State Parks officials tell us that as of mid-June, they will need to begin contingency planning both internally and externally – which would include notifications to those who have reserved space at State Parks campgrounds and other facilities.
Again, we do not anticipate legislators failing to craft budget agreements by July 1 (the beginning of the 2015-17 fiscal biennium). But, the state agencies do not have the luxury of simply waiting and hoping – they must notify parties of what could happen if agreements and budgets fail to materialize.
We hope this helps provide some context for you to better understand the notifications many of you may have received. If you have any questions, please contact our state lobbyist Doug Levy or his assistant Brittany Jarnot.
RECREATION AND CONSERVATION OFFICE
You are receiving this email because you have an active grant agreement or contract with the Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO).
As of the date of this email, the State Legislature has yet to pass a budget for the 2015-2017 biennium, which begins on July 1, 2015. If we do not have an approved budget by midnight June 30, 2015, RCO will be required to suspend your grant agreement or contract until a budget is enacted. This means all work related to the grant agreement or contract you hold with our agency must stop before July 1st. If you choose to proceed, RCO may not be able to reimburse you for work completed while your agreement was suspended.
Please take a moment to carefully review your project agreement or contract and pay close attention to the termination clause. If the Legislature has not passed a budget on or before June 22nd, RCO will send you a formal notice with more information on what will take place if we do not have an approved budget by the end of June. In the meantime, please prepare for the possibility of a suspension to your grant agreement or contract. If we do in fact suspend all grants and contracts, we will give you notice when the Legislature does pass a budget, that your grant or contract has been re-instated. If you have questions, you may contact your RCO grants or contract manager.
Kaleen Cottingham - Director