COLUMBUS — Governor Mike DeWine, First Lady Fran DeWine, and Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director Mary Mertz announced last week Ohio is offering $50,000 in grants for new or improved Storybook Trails throughout the state.
“Storybook Trails offer a unique and active way for families to get outside, learn about nature, and enjoy a good book along the way,” said Governor DeWine. “I encourage community leaders to take advantage of this amazing opportunity to provide a new family-friendly outdoor option for their residents.”
Funding for Storybook Trails will be awarded through the Recreational Trails Program. Cities, villages, counties, townships, special districts, state and federal agencies, and nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply for individual grants of $5,000 to $10,000. Applicants must own the property and use funding for Storybook Trail construction or maintenance, Storybook trailhead construction or maintenance, or interpretive signage for a Storybook Trail.
“We want to share the impact that our Storybook Trails have had in our state parks with communities all over Ohio,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “These literature-lined paths give children, and their parents, a really fun way to get some fresh air and get active, all while learning about the importance of protecting our natural resources.”
This is the second round of Storybook Trail funding offered by ODNR. Governor DeWine announced the first round of grants in February.
The Recreational Trails Program is a reimbursement grant program that provides up to 80 percent project funding. The grant program is federally funded and is administered by ODNR in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration. Applications for Storybook Trails through the Recreational Trails Program must be postmarked by July 15, 2022. More information on the application and approval process can be found on ODNR’s website.
ODNR launched its Storybook Trail program in 2019 to promote the importance of literacy, a healthy lifestyle, and connecting with nature. There are 16 ODNR Storybook Trails at state parks throughout the state, and five additional Storybook Trails are expected to open this year. Each Storybook Trail is approximately a half-mile long with 16 child-height panels featuring pages of a children’s book and an activity to accompany the text on the page.
The Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library partnered with ODNR to provide story content for several of the trails and to raise awareness of these valuable resources for Ohio families. The Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library provides one free book every month to children enrolled in the program from birth to age five. Currently, 45 percent of eligible Ohio children are enrolled in the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library, which means 321,565 Ohio children will receive a free book in the mail during the month of May.
To learn more about the program and how to participate, visit OhioImaginationLibrary.org.
An interactive map of ODNR’s Storybook Trails, as well as similar trails located at parks and library districts across the state, can be found at ohiodnr.gov.