PARKS, OUTDOOR RECREATION AND EXPERIENCES – Ohio has a rich history of providing outdoor experiences, recreational opportunities and nature education. State and local parks, nature centers and recreation centers provide close-to-home opportunities for children to experience nature. Traditional nature camps allow children to be immersed in the natural world for extended periods of time. Zoos and museums share with visitors a more intimate knowledge of nature and inspire further investigation. And, each year, youth organizations like Camp Fire, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, along with non-profit organizations like the YMCA, give hundreds of thousands of Ohio’s children the opportunity to experience the wonders of nature. Whether a few minutes in a half-acre of wildflowers or a week long camping experience in thousands of 13acres of unbroken forest, outdoor experiences are vital to children’s development. The following actions can enhance the ability of these organizations to bring children quality nature experiences:
Strategy #2: Support the development of greenbelts, greenways and trails by encouraging the creation of a statewide trails master plan, provide technical assistance to counties and municipalities to develop master plans and provide technical assistance to developers wishing to connect public trails.
In addition to having natural areas for children and families to visit, easy access to these sites is essential. Their value is enhanced when they are connected to each other by greenways and trails. Having a statewide trails master plan assists developers, counties and municipalities in making urban planning decisions that would increase the connectivity of these spaces.
- Clean Ohio Trails Fund:
Administered by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, provides grants for community projects that complete regional trail systems and links to the statewide trails plan, link population centers with outdoor recreation areas and facilities, preserve natural corridors and link urban areas to support commuter access and provide economic benefits. The investments help facilitate travel, enhance recreational opportunities and provide safe, scenic areas where Ohioans can hike, bike or run and build healthy lifestyles. To date, the Clean Ohio Trails Fund has dedicated more than $39 million to provide thousands of Ohioans with better access to recreational opportunities through the creation of more than 263 miles of trails and the acquisition of 94 acres of abandoned railroad and greenway corridors.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources in cooperation with regional, state and federal partners publishes the Ohio Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP). The SCORP serves as a master plan for the state trails system and is a guide to outdoor recreation land acquisition, facility and development, programming and management in the state of Ohio for a five-year planning period. The primary goal of the SCORP is to provide a contemporary assessment of outdoor recreation in Ohio and to recommend ways in which public, private and independent agencies might strive to meet identified needs within the constraints of the state’s social, economic and natural resources. The SCORP is the most comprehensive source of data on regional and statewide outdoor recreation in Ohio, and can serve as a valuable tool for decision making for a variety of providers.