Ohio state park users have a unique opportunity in the coming weeks. Because of an $88.5 million funding windfall to be doled out over the next two years, park users have the chance to tell the Ohio Department of Natural Resource officials what projects they would like to see done at their favorite facility.
The funding, provided by Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio General Assembly, is earmarked for specific capital improvements at parks. Park users can go to parks.ohiodnr.gov/improvements to take a survey to tell state officials what improvement they would like to see at their favorite parks.
Since the announcement of funding on April 23, approximately 1,800 people have taken the time to fill out the survey. The process will continue throughout the summer.
Ohio has less public land than many other states, making its state park system a valuable resource. The parks not only provide recreation for Ohio families, they are economic gems that bring in visitors from out of state and are responsible for the employment of thousands of state residents. Unfortunately, as is the case in many other states, the parks do not support themselves. Ohio is one of 15 states that does not charge admission to its parks, and funding has not kept up with the needed maintenance in the past several years, and, in fact, has been cut.
Therefore, this $88.5 million will go a long way to helping with needed maintenance. DNR officials will be reading and sorting through the thousands of surveys, which allow users to specify the park they want to see improved. Officials hope to release survey results and announce funding distribution later this year.
Ohio has 74 parks in its state park system. And because of the rolling hills, 15 of its finest are right here in Southeast Ohio. Like the others, they have suffered from underfunding. If you have a favorite park, take the survey and tell the ODNR what improvements you think would make your park better.