Foundation aids parks facing cuts

Organization to award $74,000 in grants

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian social issues & neighborhoods reporter



Camas children will get a new playground. River rafters will get a new waterways trail map of the Lewis River and Vancouver Lake. And several local summer recreation programs will survive public budget reductions -- thanks to the Parks Foundation of Clark County and more than $74,000 in grants it will distribute this month.

If you go

• What: Parks Foundation annual luncheon.

• When: 11:30 a.m. Thursday, June 14.

• Where: Hilton Vancouver Washington, 301 W. Sixth St.

• Cost: $30 for Parks Foundation members; $35 for nonmembers. Tickets are available at the website.

• Information: Parks Foundation's website or 360-487-8370.

The grants will be awarded during the Parks Foundation's annual luncheon, set for 11:30 a.m. June 14 at the Hilton Vancouver Washington. The keynote speaker is Mike Houck, who has a long history of local environmental leadership. Houck has taught biology, worked with Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and the National Science Foundation, founded the Urban Naturalist program at the Audubon Society of Portland, and now is executive director of the Urban Greenspaces Institute in Portland, which he founded.

The Parks Foundation kicked off its Community Grants program in 2009 to help cover dwindling local parks and recreation budgets. "It's definitely backfilling where budget cuts have left some huge gaps," said Parks Foundation executive director Cheri Martin.

Plus, the program lets some communities go after amenities they couldn't afford without help, cuts or no cuts. "Yacolt could never have gotten a skate park on its own," Martin said.

The Community Grants program has distributed just under $160,000 since 2009. Here are the grant award winners for this year:

• Battle Ground: Summer playground program, $6,000.

• Battle Ground: Park volunteer program, $2,000.

• Camas: New playground equipment for Forest Home Park, $15,000.

• Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation: "Everybody Plays!" recreation scholarship program, $13,563.

• Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation: Evergreen Park summer playground program, $11,000.

• Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation: Design and printing of Lewis River-Vancouver Lake Waterways Trail Guide, $10,000.

• Washougal: Cedar View trail construction project, $2,920.

• Yacolt: Skate park phase one, $16,760.

The Parks Foundation collects and funnels dollars to local parks and recreation needs, from buying land to supporting recreation programs. In addition to individual gifts, this year's grants were underwritten by a number of companies and sponsors, including Waste Connections, Riverview Community Bank, Tidewater, United Way, Violia, Audigy Group, Banner Bank and the Murphy family. Proceeds from the annual luncheon help, too.

Also on tap during the June 14 event are the Florence B. Wager Awards, which are given to local community leaders, volunteers and professionals working on behalf of parks and recreation. Recipients this year are Don Cannard, Milada Allen and Vicki Vanneman.

Later this summer, the Parks Foundation will be the designated recipient of all admission fees and donations raised at the Camas Meadows Concert for a Cause. That's set for 6:30 p.m. July 10 and will feature Linda Hornbuckle and the All Star Band.