The outdoor recreation sector produced $862 billion in gross economic output in 2021, and like many states that experienced a record-breaking year since, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is showcasing a year of accomplishments, milestones, and investments in outdoor recreation.
As per a report from the Delaware Gazette, ODNR has had a successful year in terms of protecting and improving the state’s public lands and resources.
ODNR Director Mary Mertz highlighted that the ODNR team has worked year-round to make each visitor experience better, upgraded equipment and trails, and paved the way for future generations to enjoy these lands.
A few of the wins ODNR highlighted is the celebration of 100 years of conservation with the creation of the Roosevelt Game Preserve, now known as Shawnee State Park and Shawnee State Forest. The property was established in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt in 1922 in an effort to replenish the depleted natural resources and wildlife in Ohio.
In addition to preserving the past, ODNR also invested in the future with the expansion of Shawnee State Forest by more than 1,200 acres through a federal grant, another win for the state. The state park will soon feature a new campground, bike trails, splash pad, and a dog park at the Shawnee Ohio River Park, Campground, and Marina. These improvements are expected to be completed next year.
The Ohio State Park System had a productive year, highlighted by numerous noteworthy milestones. At Mohican State Park, six miles of new trail were added to connect the Mohican State Park Lodge to the existing 24-mile EPIC-rated trail. A new one-mile track is also available for beginner cyclists to practice and enhance their skills.
ODNR also broke ground on Great Council State Park, Ohio’s 76th state park. The area was once home to Oldtown, one of Ohio’s largest known Shawnee settlements. The park will feature a 12,000-square-foot interpretive center full of exhibits, a theater area, a living stream, and a gallery.
Hocking Hill State Park’s lodge and conference center was opened in October, where overnight visitors can enjoy a rustic yet modern setting while taking in breathtaking views of the surrounding woods or tree-lined gorge. Guests can also take advantage of the hotel’s indoor and outdoor swimming pools and hot tubs.
Overall, ODNR has had a successful year in terms of conserving and improving Ohio’s public lands and resources. The department plans to continue these efforts in 2023 and improve more lands, lodges, and outdoor experiences for visitors.
Featured image from Ohio Department of Natural Resources.