COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), with the support of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ohio, is offering $50,000 in Recreational Trails Program grants to build new Storybook Trails throughout Ohio. The grant program encourages communities to build trails that invite families to learn in the outdoors together.
“Storybook Trails are a magical experience for children and their families,” First Lady Fran DeWine said. “We hope that community leaders will consider bringing Storybook Trails to their neighborhoods so that more families can get outside, learn about nature, and enjoy a good book all at the same time.”
The $5,000-$10,000 grants are available to cities and villages, counties, townships, special districts, state and federal agencies, and nonprofit organizations.
Applicants must own the property and use funding for:
• Storybook Trail construction or maintenance
• Storybook trailhead construction or maintenance
• Interpretive signage for a Storybook Trail
“Our Storybook Trails in state parks have brought families such joy over these last few years, and we want to see other communities do the same,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “The paths give kids and adults the opportunity to take in some fresh air and get some exercise while reading a book along the way.”
This is the third round of grant funding for Storybook Trails offered by ODNR. Gov. Mike DeWine announced the first round of funding in February 2022, and the second round of grants were awarded in October 2022.
The Recreational Trails Program is a reimbursement grant program that provides up to 80% project funding. This grant program is federally funded and is administered by the ODNR in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration. Applications for Storybook Trails through the Recreational Trails Program must be postmarked by June 1.
ODNR launched its Storybook Trail program in 2019 to promote the importance of literacy, a healthy lifestyle, and connecting with nature. ODNR has installed nearly two dozen Storybook Trails at Ohio State Parks. Each 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. A Little Free Library can be found at each site and visitors can borrow books for free or donate books to the collection.
ODNR partnered with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ohio to provide story content for several trails and raise awareness of these valuable resources for Ohio families. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ohio provides one free book every month to children enrolled in the program from birth to age five. To learn more about the program and how to participate, visit OhioImaginationLibrary.org.
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.
Submitted by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.