In a significant move for Washington’s outdoor recreation and conservation sectors, Governor Jay Inslee has appointed two lifelong outdoor enthusiasts to the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Funding Board.
Michael Shiosaki, a Seattle resident, takes the helm as chair, while Leavenworth’s Robert “Bob” Bugert joins as a board member.
The board, pivotal in shaping the state’s outdoor landscape, is tasked with distributing about $200 million in grants every two years.
These funds are crucial for developing parks, trails, and other recreational amenities. Additionally, the board plays a key role in conserving natural resources, including unique wildlife habitats and working landscapes like farms and forests.
Shiosaki, a board veteran since 2016, currently leads the Bellevue Parks and Community Services Department.
His career spans various roles, including heading the Planning and Development Division of the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department and serving as the Sammamish deputy parks director.
Shiosaki’s expertise extends beyond administration; he is a licensed landscape architect and actively participates in several professional and community organizations. His tenure as chair is slated to run through December 31, 2026.
Governor Inslee praised Shiosaki’s appointment, citing his “great insight and leadership” as key to guiding the board’s strategic investments in outdoor recreation. Shiosaki’s experience is expected to be instrumental in maintaining Washington’s status as a top outdoor destination.
Bugert, filling Shiosaki’s previous position, brings a wealth of environmental experience to the table. His background includes a stint as the District 2 Chelan County commissioner and leadership of the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust.
Bugert’s commitment to environmental causes is further evidenced by his advisory role in the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office and his eight-year tenure on the Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board. His term on the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board is also set to conclude at the end of 2026.
Inslee lauded Bugert’s lifelong dedication to wildlife conservation, emphasizing his suitability for the board. Bugert’s expertise is expected to significantly contribute to the state’s conservation efforts.
The appointments of Shiosaki and Bugert signal a strengthening of Washington’s commitment to outdoor recreation and conservation. Both appointees are avid outdoor enthusiasts, with Shiosaki enjoying gardening, skiing, hiking, and mountain climbing, and Bugert engaging in biking, hiking, kayaking, and spending time with his family.
For campground and outdoor hospitality operators in Washington, these appointments could herald a new era of opportunity and growth. The board’s decisions directly impact the development and enhancement of outdoor recreational facilities, which are integral to the camping and hospitality industry. Increased investment in parks and trails, for instance, can drive more visitors to these areas, benefiting local businesses and communities.
Moreover, the board’s focus on conserving natural resources aligns with the growing trend of sustainable tourism. As more travelers seek eco-friendly and nature-immersive experiences, Washington’s commitment to preserving its natural landscapes could position it as a premier destination for such tourists.
The expertise of Shiosaki and Bugert in park planning, community involvement, and environmental conservation is expected to guide the board in making informed decisions. These decisions will not only enhance the state’s natural beauty but also bolster the outdoor recreation industry, including camping, glamping, and RV sectors.