Funding increase welcome, but keep costs low

The state is to spend $88.5 million to improve and modernize campgrounds, trails and recreational facilities at Ohio parks over the next two years.

That’s a fourfold increase in the typical funding in the state capital budget.

The AP reported Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director James Zehringer said the money will be shared by the state’s 74 parks.

Park visitors are to help decide how that funding is to be used. A website launched Wednesday allows Ohioans to suggest which camp sites, cabins, lodges, restrooms, shower houses, trails, roads and wastewater treatment facilities should see improvements, according to The AP.

The work is overdue. Many state park facilities are 40 to 50 years old.

“While it was fine for that era, we certainly need to modernize,” Glen Cobb, chief of Ohio State Parks, told reporters.

Cobb said expanded camper parking and full-service hookups would be among improvements.

This is welcome news, but it does raise a concern. Ohio is one of seven states that doesn’t charge entry fees to state parks. That should continue.

Also, camping can offer a low-cost vacation for families. Campgrounds already cost $19-$20 per night for non-electric sites at state parks, $23-$29 for sites with electrical service. We’d hate to see lower-income families priced out of outdoor escapes due to rising costs.