Governor DeWine Announces New Outdoor Recreation Projects Across 62 Counties

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) director Mary Mertz have awarded $1.7 million in grants to help support dozens of new outdoor recreation projects in local communities throughout the state.

“We are excited to help communities all over Ohio create fun, safe, and inclusive outdoor recreation opportunities. These grants help local parks improve and upgrade their outdoor spaces for citizens of Ohio,” DeWine said.

According to studies done by the Forest Service U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are many physical and mental health benefits associated with spending time outside.

“The physiological response to being outside in nature is real, and it’s measurable. There are many physical and psychological benefits of nature that scientists have observed, which can better help us understand how nature supports wellness in the body, mind, and community,” Michelle Kondo, a research social scientist with the USDA Forest Service’s Northern Research Station, said.

The Forest Service U.S. Department of Agriculture also says that its studies show spending time outside is relaxing, reducing stress, cortisol levels, muscle tension, and heart rates, all of which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

The grants are awarded as part of the NatureWorks program and they will support 68 different outdoor recreation projects across 62 counties in Ohio.

Projects include the development of playgrounds, natural playscapes, trails, restrooms, dog parks, baseball fields, basketball courts, tennis and pickleball courts, splash pads, parking lots and fencing, disc golf courses, fire pits, bike playgrounds, gazebos, shade structures, and picnic shelters.

“These grants give us an opportunity to partner with local communities and invest in outdoor recreation across the Buckeye State. We are always looking for ways to get families and friends to get out and enjoy the beautiful spaces that can be found right in their own neighborhoods,” Director Mertz said.

NatureWorks grants provide up to 75 percent of reimbursement assistance to local government subdivisions (townships, villages, cities, counties, park districts, joint recreation districts, and conservancy districts) for the acquisition, development, and rehabilitation of recreational areas. Projects are funded through the Ohio Parks and Natural Resources Bond Issue, which Ohioans approved in November 1993. Additional legislation authorized the creation of the NatureWorks grant program. Since the inception of NatureWorks, the grant has funded over 2,300 public park projects in all of Ohio’s 88 counties.

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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]



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