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County gets Nature Works grants

State resources officials have awarded more than $58,000 in grants to three village parks in Lawrence County.

Tuesday, May 08, 2001

State resources officials have awarded more than $58,000 in grants to three village parks in Lawrence County.

The Village of Athalia received $18,075 for land purchases at its park; the Village of Proctorville gets $19,206 for play equipment and park furniture; and the Village of Coal Grove will use $21,375 for paving, landscaping and other improvements at Paul Porter Park.

The funding comes from the state’s Nature Works grant program, Gov. Bob Taft and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) announced last week.

The local grants were part of more than $7 million in state and federal funds awarded to Ohio communities for recreation improvements. These include nearly $5 million from the state Nature Works grants program as well as more than $2 million in grants from the federal Land & Water Conservation fund, which is administered in Ohio by ODNR.

The Nature Works grants represent the seventh annual round from a total of more than $55 million in competitive grants to be funded by the Ohio Parks and Natural Resources Fund bond issue, approved by voters in November 1993.

Total costs for each project will be funded up to 75 percent by the NatureWorks grant, with the recipient providing a minimum 25 percent match in local funds.

The grant is good news in Coal Grove, where the funding is a first, Mayor Tom McKnight said.

"Our share will be a little over $8,000 and it’s the first time we’ve ever received any money other than tax money used to support the park all these years," McKnight said.

Paul Porter Park, opened in 1989, needed street work, roadwork around the shelter area and expanded handicapped parking, the mayor said.

"It’s nice to be able to get this because we really didn’t have any extra money this year, so it will help out a great deal," McKnight said.

The mayor lauded the Coal Grove Betterment Club, saying their tireless work and volunteer efforts on behalf of the park has made it what it is today. And, the state has rewarded that work with grant funds this year, he said.

"Through its continuing investment in hometown parks and recreation facilities, the Nature Works program provides new and improved opportunities for Ohio families to enjoy our state’s great outdoors," Gov. Taft said. "These state grants, complemented by those from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, are helping us build and maintain one of the finest state and local park systems in America."

A population-based formula is used to determine the proportional share of grant funds available in each county. Applications are then ranked competitively by ODNR on a broad range of criteria.

Additional Nature Works grants totaling $2,690,000 have gone to local projects that increase boating and fishing access to Lake Erie and the Ohio River. Also, county Soil and Water Conservation Districts have shared $7,300,000 in special Nature Works grants for streambank restoration and non-point source pollution control projects throughout the state.

Applications for the next round of local grants must be submitted to ODNR by July 1, 2001. Those grants will be announced in the spring of 2002. For more information, check the ODNR Web site: www.dnr.state.oh.us