History and Purpose of the Department of Natural Resources
To ensure a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all.
The history of the Department of Natural Resources is rich and varied, beginning with its creation by the Ohio Legislature in 1949.
At that time, the department was charged with the responsibility of formulating and putting into execution a long term comprehensive plan and program for the development and wise use of the natural resources of the state, to the end that the health, happiness and wholesome enjoyment of life of the people of Ohio may be further encouraged.
A department of incredible diversity, ODNR owns and manages more than 590,000 acres of land including 75 state parks, 21 state forests, 134 state nature preserves, and 138 wildlife areas. The department also has jurisdiction over more than 120,000 acres of inland waters; 7,000 miles of streams; 481 miles of Ohio River; and 2-1/4 million acres of Lake Erie.
In addition, ODNR licenses all hunting, fishing, and watercraft in the state and is responsible for overseeing and permitting all mineral extraction, monitoring dam safety, managing water resources, coordinating the activity of Ohio's 88 county soil and water conservation districts, mapping the state's major geologic structures and mineral resources, and promoting recycling and litter prevention through grant programs in local communities.
As an umbrella organization for such diverse interests, the department pulls all these activities into four fundamental mission components:
- Resource management by sustained productivity of Ohio's renewable natural resources, promoting the wise use of non-renewable natural resources, and protecting Ohio's invaluable threatened and endangered natural resources.
- Economic development through job creation/expansion/retention, stimulating local economies, developing industry and tourism opportunities, and supporting the present and future economic health of the state.
- Recreation by providing leisure services and recreation opportunities for the public at all levels.
- Health and safety through fair and consistent law enforcement participating in regulatory matters and identifying and responding to environmental hazards.
Managing Ohio's resources is one of ODNR's primary responsibilities. This involves sustaining the productivity of Ohio's renewable natural resources such as timber and wildlife; promoting wise use of Ohio's non-renewable resources such as oil and gas; and protecting Ohio's threatened and endangered natural resources such as rare plants and animals.
Eight of ODNR's 11 divisions are actively involved in resource management. These include the divisions of:
Though each division typically has its own mandates and responsibilities, they often combine their efforts, working together on various management projects to achieve similar goals.
Economic development is another responsibility of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. This involves job creation, expansion, and retention; stimulation of local economies; industry development; promotion of tourism; and management of natural resources to support the present and future economic health of Ohio. All 11 divisions within the department play a role in our state's economic development.
Recreation --perhaps what ODNR is best known for. Whether it's hiking, biking, camping, boating, hunting or fishing, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources provides leisure services and recreational opportunities to all Ohioans. With 21 state forests, 134 nature preserves, 75 parks, and 138 wildlife areas, the activities are numerous and appealing. The five divisions providing you with all these opportunities are the Divisions of:
Health and Safety:
Perhaps least recognized by the general public, but of great importance, is the role the Ohio Department of Natural Resources plays in protecting the health and safety of Ohio's citizens. ODNR does this by enforcing regulations, providing law enforcement, and responding to and treating hazardous situations or substances. The divisions responsible for your health and safety are the Divisions of:
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is dedicated to developing and implementing policies that will have far-reaching impact on the environment and our natural resources. It is an agency comprised of incredible diversity with a vast understanding of the importance of partnerships with the public. Through these partnerships, ODNR has accomplished a greater balance between environmental conservation and economic growth for the state.