From the Ohio Department of Natural Resources
-- The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is seeing a notable recent upswing in the numbers of people enjoying the affordable outdoor opportunities ODNR offers. Ohioans in search of access to high value, low cost recreation during a tough economic climate are increasingly finding what they are looking for in Ohio's parks, beaches and waterways.
Camping in Central Ohio region state parks is up 22 percent compared with last year's pre-Fourth of July period. In addition, fishing license sales are up approximately 15 percent. State park managers are reporting a surge in day use visitors enjoying hiking, biking, picnicking, golfing and more.
"Access to nature should never be connected to one's ability to pay," said ODNR Director Sean Logan. "Whether it's families sharing time at a state park campground, a grandfather on a riverbank teaching his grandson to tie a bass jig or an individual who seeks out the needed serenity of a natural area, natural resources and recreation are available to all Ohioans."
This year, the ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves has tripled the number of nature interpretive programs it offers and has seen a significant rise in participation. The special events provide unique opportunities for nature lovers to visit state preserves and develop a greater appreciation for the spectacular resources that make Ohio unique.
The fun is not reserved only for land lovers. ODNR Division of Watercraft reports an increase in canoe and kayak registrations. In 2008, there were 80,640 Ohio-registered canoes and kayaks, a 34 percent jump since 2003. The registrations have generated more than a half-million dollars for the Waterways Safety Fund, which funds all Ohio programs for safe boating education, law enforcement, capital improvements and administration.
In addition to providing needed access to nature, ODNR is further supporting Ohio's recovery by putting young Ohioans to work. Through the Recovery Conservation Corps (RCC) program, a partnership between ODNR and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), federal stimulus money is being used to put crews of young Ohioans to work on maintenance, repair and improvement projects on Ohio's public recreation lands. Crews have begun working at Burr Oak, Buck Creek, Barkcamp and Shawnee state parks. The Little Darby Scenic River and several other state parks around Ohio will soon also have improvement crews on site.