COLUMBUS, OH -- Governor Bob Taft and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) today announced more than $7 million in state and federal grants to Ohio communities for local parks and recreation improvements. Included are $4,958,097 in state NatureWorks grants and recommendations by the state for an additional $2,054,476 in grants from the federal Land & Water Conservation Fund, for a total of $7,012,573.
The NatureWorks grants represent the seventh annual round of a total of more than $55,000,000 in state funding through the Ohio Parks and Natural Resources Fund bond issue, approved by voters in November 1993. Each grant requires a minimum 25 percent match with local funds. Grants from the federal Land & Water Conservation Fund will be based on the state's recommendations, after final approval by the U.S. Department of Interior. The federal grants require at least a 50 percent local match.
"Through its continuing investments in hometown parks and recreation facilities, the NatureWorks program provides new and improved opportunities for Ohio families to enjoy our state's great outdoors," Taft said. "These state grants, complemented by those from the Land & Water Conservation Fund, are helping us build and maintain one of the finest state and local park systems in America," Taft said.
The NatureWorks bond issue program, designed to fund major renovations and improvements for Ohio's state and local parks, state forests, nature preserves, wildlife areas and other natural resources facilities, was established in 1994 following voter approval the previous year. Since then, the program has invested $275 million in Ohio State Parks and other ODNR facilities, while awarding more than $55 million to Ohio communities for local parks and recreation projects.
Additional NatureWorks grants totaling $2.7 million have gone to local projects that increase boating and fishing access to Lake Erie and the Ohio River. County Soil & Water Conservation Districts have shared $7.3 million in special NatureWorks funding for streambank restoration and nonpoint-source pollution control projects.
Grants from the federal Land & Water Conservation Fund, which is administered in Ohio by ODNR, have brought $124 million to Ohio for state and local outdoor recreation projects since its inception in 1965.
Applications for the next round of grants from either program must be submitted to ODNR by July 1, 2001. Those grants will be announced in the spring of 2002. Information is available on the ODNR web site at: www.dnr.state.oh.us