Mission: To enhance the quality of life through exceptional outdoor recreational experiences and sound resource management
Vision: We are devoted to providing fun, safe, clean and friendly places where visitors can gather and enjoy our Ohio State Parks
The Division of Parks was created as a division of ODNR in 1949 with the statutory obligation to create, supervise, operate and maintain a system of state parks and to promote their use by the public. Through land acquisition and transfer, the park system has grown from the original 30 parks to 75 state parks in 60 counties with over 174,000 acres of land and water resources. Facilities include eight resort lodges, two dining lodges, six golf courses, more than 9,000 campsites in 56 family campgrounds, 518 cottages, 36 visitor/nature centers, 80 swimming beaches and 18 swimming pools, 188 boat ramps and 7,583 boat docks, 463 picnic areas, and 1,167 miles of trails.
Ohio State Parks host about 55 million visitor occasions each year. The division's primary purpose is to provide front-line service to these customers. Field operations include maintenance and repair of grounds and facilities; operation of campgrounds, cottages and lodges along with food and merchandise concessions; services such as rental of boats, docks, bicycles and other recreational equipment; and waterways maintenance through dredging and nuisance plant removal programs. Commissioned law enforcement personnel provide protective services and assist customers. Most parks offer educational programming and special activities for visitors through seasonal naturalist programs and customer service initiatives.
The division's top priority is to provide excellent customer service with diverse recreational offerings, well maintained facilities, and value-added amenities.
- Strategic Direction -- The division is implemeting its third five year strategic plan, “Service and Stewardship, 2011 -- 2015”. The plan was developed based on input from customers and stakeholders on the types of programs and facilities they use and would like to see offered in Ohio’s state parks.
- Overnight Economic Impact Study -- The division participated with the Ohio Division of Travel and Tourism in an economic impact study of overnight travelers in 2009. Specific to state park overnight visitors, direct sales were $237 million in 2009. Including direct and indirect effects, state and local taxes supported by these visitors in 2009 were $15.4 million and $12.8 million, respectively. In addition, sales to state park visitors supported 4,638 direct and indirect jobs in Ohio.
- Customer Satisfaction --Through our continuing focus on customer service, the division’s annual internal customer satisfaction survey showed 92.5% of respondents rated their overall state park experience as “excellent” or “good” during the May through October 2008 season. Employee helpfulness, special events and nature programs were frequently complimented in our customer feedback.
- Community Support -- The Ohio State Park Legacy Foundation has been established as a non-profit organization to seek contributions from families, businesses and foundations to make improvements in the state parks. The non-profit support group, “Friends for the Preservation of Ohio State Parks and the 45 various local “State Park Friends” and other support groups, facilitate value-added enhancements to our state parks that would not otherwise be possible. In addition to our “Friends” groups, over 7,000 volunteers contributed nearly 350,000 hours of service to our state parks in 2008.
- New Funding Source -- The Ohio State Parks specialty license plate became available for purchase in April 2005. Proceeds from the sales of this plate are earmarked for interpretive and educational programs offered in Ohio State Parks.
- Employee Satisfaction -- Ohio State Parks ranked in the top five percent of employers with an overall employee satisfaction index of 77.8 percent, according to an employee satisfaction survey conducted by the Leadership Factor in 2005. The survey was conducted as part of the division’s overall strategy to continue to improve job performance and employee productivity.
- Organizational Development -- More than 100 management and aspiring managers have honed their supervisory and management skills through participation in the Flickinger Leadership Academy and Ohio Certified Public Manager Program. The division also encourages employees to attend training programs that enhance their skills by utilizing the Workforce Development Fund, Exempt Professional Development Program and the FOP Tuition, Seminar and Conference Reimbursement Fund.
- Organizational Streamlining Efforts -- Continuing efforts to increase the division’s operational efficiency in both the field and central office have resulted in an operating structure consisting of 24 regions that encompass two to five parks each.
- Ohio Resident Survey -- According to a study conducted by The Ohio State University in late 2004, over 42% of Ohio residents visit Ohio’s state parks. Those visits contribute approximately $1.1 billion in overall economic impact statewide. More than 87% of respondents to the survey rated their overall visits to Ohio State Parks as “excellent” or “good”, and picnic areas, trails and beaches were the facilities cited as most often visited. Overnight facilities were utilized by respondents as follows: Campgrounds by 66.3%, Resort Lodges by 22.3%, and Cottages by 11.4%.
- Gold Medal In November 1997, the Ohio State Parks system received the first ever - National Gold Medal Award for State Parks and Recreation Excellence. The award was given by the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) and the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA), which have honored local and metro parks systems with similar gold medals for many years. Judging criteria included customer service, facilities and recreational offerings, innovations, management, and relations with the community.
The Parks and Recreation Advisory Council, with seven members, meet quarterly.