Voinovich School report provides insight into outdoor recreation in Ohio

August 14, 2017

Earlier this year, as part of a survey conducted by Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, Ohio residents were asked to share their experiences and opinions regarding their favorite outdoor recreation activities on public lands, such as local and state parks, nature preserves, wildlife and forestry areas and federal lands. They were also asked specifically about their level of participation and any new or expanded facilities they would like to see in Ohio.

“The collaborative effort of a team of staff members from across the Voinovich School developed the SCORP survey tool, monitored its response rates, and provided an analytical summary of the final results,” said Nicole Kirchner, an environmental specialist with the Voinovich School. “The SCORP survey report is a data-rich resource that may help inform decisions concerning recreation on public lands and waters in Ohio.”

Feedback from the public survey helps park districts, local communities and nature preserve, wildlife and forestry managers understand outdoor recreation trends in Ohio and set priorities for funding and improvements.

The Voinovich School’s final report for the 2018 Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) public survey is now available at parks.ohiodnr.gov/research. The School analyzed 5,059 completed surveys from respondents from all of Ohio’s 88 counties. The report provides some interesting insight into the desires of Ohioan’s recreationalists, such as the facilities that respondents want more of and the top five outdoor recreational pursuits. The survey and the SCORP are funded with assistance from the National Park Service, and the full SCORP report will be available in 2018.

Survey results include:

  • Eighty-two percent of survey respondents stated that recreational facilities are very important to the enjoyment of outdoor activities in Ohio.
  • The main reasons for engaging in outdoor recreation on public lands is for fun and entertainment; sharing time with family and friends and experiencing nature; quiet time and serenity.
  • Ohioans participating in wildlife activities favored wildlife viewing; nature photography and bird watching; with 47 percent stating they did so to experience nature, quiet time and serenity.
  • Camping responses indicated tent and pop-up campers were more popular than other types of camping vehicles with more than 46 percent responding they enjoyed camping to share time with family and friends.
  • All forms of trail activities received high responses, with nearly 51 percent of respondents stating they participated for health, wellness and fitness. The top trail-related activities are walking and hiking on various trail surfaces (natural, stone and paved).
  • Canoeing and kayaking are the most frequent boating activities.

Ohioans prioritized which outdoor recreation facilities they would like to have more of in Ohio. The top ranked facilities focused on trails (natural surface, paved and water); wildlife viewing and birding areas; and undeveloped campgrounds.

The survey results will be included in the five-year SCORP, which provides information on recreation trends. The SCORP informs the grant application scoring process among worthy projects proposed by public outdoor recreation providers, such as park districts, cities, counties, villages and townships around the state.

More information on the survey and the 2018 SCORP project is available at parks.ohiodnr.gov/research.