More than $4.4 million in project funding through the NatureWorks grant program has been approved by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) for improving outdoor recreational opportunities for Ohioans statewide, according to a recent news release from Stephanie Leis of the ODNR Office of Communications.

“The NatureWorks grant program has been allowing ODNR to invest back into Ohio’s local communities for 25 years,” said ODNR director Jim Zehringer. “We believe it is important to encourage people to spend time outdoors doing recreational activities they enjoy with the people they care about here in Ohio.”

102 NatureWorks state grants totaling more than $4.4 million have been approved by ODNR. The grants will be used “to develop and improve public access for outdoor recreation facilities” in 68 Ohio counties, according to the news release.

Planned projects include replacing outdated playgrounds with new playgrounds, renovating existing shelters, trails, trailheads, restrooms, basketball courts, baseball fields, fishing piers, kayak launches, amphitheaters and outdoor stages, adding new picnic shelters, and more.

Up to 75 percent reimbursement assistance to local subdivisions of government (park districts, counties, cities, villages, joint recreation districts and conservancy districts) will be provided by NatureWorks for acquisition and development, as well as rehabilitation of recreational areas.

The Ohio Parks and Natural Resources Bond Issue, approved by Ohioans in November 1993, is funding the projects. The creation of the NatureWorks grant program was authorized by additional legislation.

In Pike County, the Village of Piketon will be awarded the installation of a boat and kayak launch system and access improvements in the amount of $22,864, according to the ODNR news release.

For more information about projects funded through the NatureWorks grand program, contact Stephanie Leis, ODNR Office of Communications, at (614) 265-6860 or Mary Fitch, ODNR Office of Real Estate at (614) 265-6477.

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