FOR RELEASE THE WEEK OF MAY 1, 2000
By JOHN WISSE
ODNR, Division of Wildlife
COLUMBUS, Ohio � More people are enjoying the outdoors, especially when it comes to activities like camping, fishing, hiking, backpacking, and camping, according to a 1999 survey by the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA).
America�s favorite pastime continues to be exercise walking with 80.1 million Americans participating each year. Swimming ranked second with 57.9 million participants followed by camping and fishing.
Participation in outdoor camping climbed 7.8 percent to 50.1 million participants. Fishing participation increased 7.1 percent, backpacking/wilderness camping was up 4.6 percent, and hiking was up 3.3 percent. The largest percentage decreases of participation were in wind surfing, sailing, and mountain biking, according to the NSGA survey.
Those statistics then bode very well for Ohio, a state that is rich in outdoor recreation resources, especially those that include camping, fishing, and hiking as compared to wind surfing, sailing, and mountain biking.
"Ohio offers an outstanding variety of quality outdoor recreation opportunities, with programs and facilities to suit a variety of personal interests," said Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Sam Speck. "From Lake Erie to the Ohio River, and all that lies in between, Ohio�s diverse land and water resources support a growing recreation and tourism industry that rivals any other in America."
Ohio�s award-winning state park system attracts more than 65 million visitors each year. No fees are required to enter Ohio�s state parks or enjoy state park trails and lakes. There are modest fees charged for camping and other facility uses.
The Buckeye State also is rich in its fishing resources. Rated among the top areas in North America, Lake Erie is nationally acclaimed for its quality fishing opportunities for walleyes, smallmouth bass, and steelhead trout. There were twelve state record fish certified last year by the Outdoor Writers of Ohio, a single-year record in of itself. Recreational sportfishing contributes an estimated $2 billion annually to Ohio�s economy. Ohio residents can enjoy Free Fishing Days June 3-4 when a fishing license is not required to fish in public waters of the state, including Ohio�s portion of Lake Erie and the Ohio River.
Ohio�s state parks and state forests offer thousands of miles of exercise walking, hiking, and backpacking trails, in addition to those trails found in a network of community park districts. The nation�s only coast-to-coast trail (American Discovery Trail) passes through the southern portion of the state. The regional North Country Scenic Trail also passes through the state. Ohio is home to the Buckeye Trail, a 1,200-mile circular trail that covers much the state and remains a favorite destination among hikers.
The Shawnee State Forest in Scioto and Adams counties encompasses about 60,000 acres of hilly, rugged terrain that is a top location for backpackers and wilderness campers. The Wayne National Forest in southeast Ohio also offers a multitude of wilderness recreation opportunities, in addition to fishing and camping.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources owns and manages more than 474,000 acres of land, including 73 state parks, 20 state forests, 122 state nature preserves, and 87 wildlife areas. The Department also helps manage and promote outdoor recreation on some privately-owned lands such as the American Electric Power Company (AEP) Recreation Lands in eastern Ohio. There are more than 225 public inland lakes and reservoirs, and 61,000 miles of rivers, streams, and creeks that support many diverse sportfishing opportunities.
Ohio offers excellent wildlife viewing, hunting, boating, and swimming opportunities on its publicly owned lands. Additional information about outdoors recreation can be obtained by visiting the Ohio Department of Natural Resources web site at www.dnr.state.oh.us/