Outdoor rec plan: Trails all the rage with Ohioans

Ohio offers more than 5,000 miles of trails for mountain biking and the like. (Ohio State Park/Ohio DNR)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio’s 2018 Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) is now available at parks.ohiodnr.gov/research, according to the Ohio DNR.

The SCORP, completed every five years, provides up-to-date information on statewide outdoor recreation priorities and current recreation trends in the state. The SCORP is a reference document for state officials for allocating federal and state grants among projects proposed by public outdoor recreation providers, such as park districts, cities, counties, villages and townships around the state.

Below are some noteworthy highlights from the 2018 SCORP:

  • Trails are highly popular with Ohioans, with 90 percent walking or hiking a trail a few times a year and approximately a third walking or hiking a trail monthly.
  • Bicycling on paved trails remains popular in Ohio with 55 percent of households doing so at least a few times a year.
  • The top three wildlife activities for Ohioans are wildlife viewing, nature photography and bird watching.
  • Interest in paddleboarding and stand-up paddleboarding grew from 4 percent to 10 percent in Ohio from 2013 to 2018, which is consistent with national trends.
  • Activities such as disc golf, mountain biking, rappelling/rock climbing, backcountry camping, enjoying splash pads/spray parks and horseback riding have continued to show increased participation in Ohio.

The SCORP, funded with assistance from the National Park Service, is a federal requirement for the state to receive Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) monies. LWCF provides significant funding assistance to local public outdoor recreation providers through Ohio’s LWCF competitive grant program, as well as supporting the acquisition of new and the improvement of existing ODNR public recreation lands.

ODNR will be accepting grant applications for the LWCF local grant program until Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. Although the federal LWCF Act officially expired at the end of September 2018, LWCF funds are currently available for Ohio’s LWCF grant program. Local government entities, such as villages, counties, townships, park districts and cities, are encouraged to apply for LWCF assistance for the acquisition, development and rehabilitation of public outdoor recreational areas. Applicants are encouraged to review the 2018 SCORP; project alignment with SCORP findings is one component of the LWCF scoring process.

ODNR administers the federal LWCF grant program for Ohio. This fund provides up to 50 percent reimbursement assistance. Many local parks that Ohioans enjoy today were made possible through this federal program. To download a grant application or learn more about the LWCF, go to realestate.ohiodnr.gov/outdoor-recreation-facility-grants.

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