If you have an idea on how to improve Ohio State Parks, James Zehringer, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, would like to hear from you.
Zehringer and State Sen. Keith Faber last week said the state plans to invest about $88.5 million in capital improvements at state parks over the next two years.
The ODNR has launched a website to accept ideas from the public at: parks.ohiodnr.gov/improvements. Visitors to the website can choose from list of parks and will be asked what facilities they’d like to see updated. That list includes restrooms, lodges, cabins/cottages, pools, beaches, shower houses, campgrounds marinas/docks and shelter houses.
The funds are being allocated for improvements and not for expanding the state park system, Zehringer said.
Park facilities and lodges across the state will be improved, including bathrooms and campsites, which will be updated or replaced throughout much of the park system.
“Ultimately, this money belongs to the taxpayers, and we’re going to make sure Ohioans have a voice as we improve our parks,” Zehringer said.
He said Ohio is one of seven states with free admission to parks and many residents turn to Ohio parks for hiking, fishing, swimming, boating, camping, horseback riding and more.
Although the Ohio Clean Lakes Initiative has been in place less than a year, the state’s growers have made strides in implementing conservation practices that reduce soil run-off into waterways, Zehringer writes in a recent blog.
An allocation of $3 million for the Healthy Lake Erie Fund last year was used for the initiative and made it possible for agricultural run-off reduction measures to be installed on more than 35,000 acres in the Western Lake Erie Basin.
“We have had a great amount of interest from farmers in the area about this initiative,” Zehringer said, noting by the end of 2103 farmers in the basin will have signed up to install more than 440 controlled drainage systems.
“The farmers’ willingness to cooperate and collaborate on putting in agronomic practices has been instrumental in making this initiative so successful,” Zehringer said. “I also want to thank the local soil and water conservation districts in these counties (Defiance, Hancock, Henry, Putnam and Wood) for being willing to step up and help during this process.”
s the Executive Director for the Black Swamp Bird Observatory in Oak Harbor, Ohio. She has worked with the organization since the 1990s, and has served as the executive director since 2009. She also writes for various publications, including Birds & Blooms, and is the co-author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Nature of New England.