COLUMBUS – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has approved more than $4.4 million in project funding through the NatureWorks grant program to improve outdoor recreational opportunities for Ohioans across the state.

The awards include projects in Tuscarawas and Coshocton counties.

"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."

In Tuscarawas County, the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District will receive $14,249 for a new accessible fishing pier at Atwood Lake public launch ramp, and the City of New Philadelphia will receives $32,338 to construct an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant restroom as part of the South Side Park Development.

The City of Coshocton Parks and Recreation will receive $60,923 to remove equipment and courts and replace them with an asphalt trail as part of the Hall Park Renovation Project.

ODNR has approved 102 NatureWorks state grants totaling more than $4.4 million that will be used to develop and improve public access for outdoor recreation facilities in 68 counties across Ohio.

Projects include many new playgrounds that will replace outdated playgrounds, new picnic shelters, renovations to existing shelters, trails, trailheads, restrooms, baseball fields, basketball courts, amphitheaters and outdoor stages, fishing piers, kayak launches and much more.

NatureWorks provides up to 75 percent reimbursement assistance to local subdivisions of government (townships, villages, cities, counties, park districts, joint recreation districts and conservancy districts) for the acquisition, development and rehabilitation of recreational areas.

The projects are funded through the Ohio Parks and Natural Resources Bond Issue, which was approved by Ohioans in November 1993. Additional legislation authorized the creation of the NatureWorks Grant Program.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.?