Clean Ohio Program awards $4.2 million in two rounds of funding


Staff report



WAVERLY- The Clean Ohio Fund is a state conservation program through the Ohio Public Works Commission that awards funds to preserve open spaces, sensitive ecological areas, and stream corridors. Second-round funding awards were just announced, and a total of $4,282,778 dollars were awarded in two rounds for FY 2021-2022 to projects located in Adams, Fayette, Ross, Scioto and Vinton Counties.

The Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission (OVRDC), the Ohio Public Works Commission, and the Natural Resources Assistance Council (NRAC) work together to facilitate distribution of the Clean Ohio Fund for Green Space Conservation in District 15 in the following southern Ohio counties: Adams, Brown, Fayette, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike, Ross, Scioto and Vinton.

“The Vinton County Park District is thrilled to be awarded funding for the acquisition of its first park properties, the 158-acre McArthur Brick Co. Historic Preserve and 84-acre Treebeard’s Retreat. Not only will these projects protect wetlands, wildlife, and historic structures, they will provide recreational and educational opportunities that will stimulate tourism and economic growth closer to our county’s villages while relieving pressure from crowded state parks,” said Caleb Appleman, Acting Director for the Vinton County Park District.

Several projects are located in Ross County, such as the Cliff Run Preserve and the Herron Downs projects.

“The Arc of Appalachia is delighted to be awarded funding to enable purchasing a substantial land expansion to Cliff Run Preserve – one of the Arc’s newest preserves and one that is destined to be beloved by the visiting public. Arc staff members are currently working on developing a public trail system at Cliff Run that will lead hikers into the preserve’s most breathtakingly beautiful feature – Lewis Gorge – with its vertical walled cliffs, crystal clear waters, and splendid spring wildflowers,” said Nancy Stranahan, Director of the Highlands Nature Sanctuary and Arc of Appalachia Preserve System.

“The Park District is very thankful for the work of the park staff and the generosity and vision of the landowners that have come together to take advantage of this wonderful program of Ohio Public Works. The addition of this 180-acre wetland acquisition to our park system through the Clean Ohio Greenspace fund is a huge win for nature conservation, public health and wellness, and the economy and tourism in Ross County,” said Joe Letsche, Director, Ross County Park District.

The next opportunity to apply for Clean Ohio funding will be next year in February, and there will be only one round of funding in 2023. Approximately $3.5 million dollars will be awarded to projects next year.

“The Clean Ohio fund is unique in that its local nature makes it possible for even small communities in our region to create spaces for people to enjoy the outdoors with ranges from large scale nature preservations to a local city or village park. We really encourage local governments and conservation groups to apply for this program next year,” said Jacob Taylor, OVRDC Clean Ohio liaison.

The Clean Ohio Program fund was established in 2000, when Ohio voters approved a constitutional amendment authorizing the state to sell bonds and other obligations for the Clean Ohio Program. This program provides grants for open space and watershed conservation and recreational trails.

Staff report