Expanded Conservation, Park Improvements, and New Play Areas

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director Mary Mertz today announced new investments in recreation, accessibility, and conservation.

“The popularity of our state parks and other state recreation facilities in Ohio has been unprecedented in recent years,” said Governor DeWine. “Ohio has unparalleled outdoor spaces, and these new investments will give visitors an even better experience overall.”

New projects announced today include enhancements to multiple park lodges and playgrounds, as well as new and improved trails and the expansion of a state nature preserve. Funding for these projects was secured by Governor DeWine and the Ohio General Assembly as part of the most recent capital budget.

“With every upgrade we make, we hope to improve the visitor experience at our state parks, forests, and nature preserves,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said.  “With this new funding, we’ll be able to upgrade equipment, lodging, and make changes that grant more people to access these beautiful places.”

State Park Lodging Upgrades

People have been visiting state parks in record numbers over the last few years looking to make family memories. With more people choosing to stay overnight at state-owned properties, ODNR began to expand and improve its facilities to elevate the visitor experience to new levels.  With recent funding approved by the State Controlling Board, upgrades will be made at the Deer Creek and Mohican State Park lodges, neither of which has had significant guest room improvements since their openings.  Planned renovations will create a more aesthetically pleasing experience and provide visitors with a more modern feel for their stays.

Playground Replacements

Playgrounds are a huge draw for those people who want to enjoy outdoor recreation in safe and friendly places.  For that reason, ODNR will replace playgrounds at 6 Ohio State Parks.  The new playground at Rocky Fork State Park is designed with Disabilities Act (ADA) components to make it accessible to children of all abilities.  The playgrounds at Rocky Fork and Mosquito Lake will be located near the hustle and bustle of the campgrounds which see high traffic all summer and fall.  The playgrounds at Barkcamp, Deer Creek, Great Seal, and Harrison Lake state parks will be in day-use areas of the parks.  They will be installed in areas with access to close parking, restrooms, and picnic areas making it easy for families with children of all ages to play.

State Nature Preserves

Ohio’s State Nature Preserves offer some of the widest varieties of plants, pollinators, and other animals.  With the recently approved funding, ODNR is making sure even more people can see those sights at Chaparral State Nature Preserve by installing an ADA compliant trail that winds through the plants, past interpretive signs, and back to the parking lot.  The new path will be built on the Blazing Star Trail, creating a safe and appealing place for future visitors.

Land Acquisitions

ODNR is expanding its reach when it comes to state-protected land. The Division of Natural Areas and Preserves (DNAP) will increase its influence with the expansion of the Christmas Rocks Nature Preserve.  The additional 1.33 acres will allow DNAP to minimize impacts from existing use and better control invasive species. The Division of Forestry (DOF) will also purchase nearly 28 acres of agricultural and wooded land near the Maumee State Forest.  ODNR will maintain the property for the benefit of wildlife habitat, soil health, and water quality. 

Bike Trail Improvements

Cycling has grown in popularity through the years, and few paths are as traveled as the Little Miami Scenic Trail which is a connector trail from Cincinnati to Yellow Springs.  As ridership increases, repairs and improvements must be made.  The next phase will be the replacement of O’Bannon Bridge which has sustained erosion caused by fluctuating water levels.  The bridge will be replaced with a new single span truss bridge without piers in the stream bed.

ODNR works to enhance and improve visitor experiences throughout the year.  We are thankful for the support of Governor Mike Dewine and the General Assembly that allows us to improve the outdoor space enjoyed by so many, especially over the last few years.  We have big plans for our properties and Ohioans can expect each visit to get better and better.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.

Information courtesy of Ohio Department of Natural Resources