The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) received four Ohio Parks and Recreation Association (OPRA) Awards of Excellence, including first place for the new Hocking Hills State Park Visitor Center, at OPRA’s annual conference. Submitted photo.

Hocking Hills Visitor Center Receives First Place OPRA Award of Excellence

Four ODNR capital projects honored by Ohio Parks and Recreation Association

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) received four Ohio Parks and Recreation Association (OPRA) Awards of Excellence, including first place for the new Hocking Hills State Park Visitor Center, at OPRA’s annual conference on Feb. 4.

“The Hocking Hills Visitor Center is a great starting point for any adventure at one of Ohio’s finest parks,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “It’s exciting to see the public’s investment and years of work now paying dividends for visitors from all over.”

The following projects were recognized with 2019 OPRA Awards of Excellence in several Capital Improvements categories.

  • First place for the Hocking Hills State Park Visitors Center which opened in the summer of 2019. The center is open year-round and offers a staffed information desk, trail safety and educational exhibits, gift shop, and lower level restrooms.
  • Second place for an accessible fishing pier at Rocky Fork State Park which united local volunteers and funding from the community, National Wild Turkey Foundation and two ODNR divisions. The new pier has improved fishing access for visitors of all abilities and its green LED lighting improves night fishing.
  • Third place for the 4.1-mile multipurpose path at Buckeye Lake State Park which has balanced recreational use by residents and park visitors. In addition to connecting two popular areas of the park, the project also installed a new accessible fishing pier at Mud Island and created additional parking. 
  • Third place for the improved boat launch facility at Catawba Island State Park which included replacing aging ramps with new concrete ramps, and new lighting. The project also reconfigured vehicle and pedestrian traffic. As a result, boaters experience less wait time in the launch area and visitors and residents can maneuver safely through the park.

“These award winners represent the best of the best in parks and recreation in Ohio,” said OPRA Executive Director Woody Woodward.

The OPRA Awards of Excellence are judged by a panel of Ohio parks and recreational professionals. 

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.