COLUMBIANA COUNTY Program urges pursuit of land preservation

Nearly $1.9 million will be available to an eight-county area in each of the next few years for natural resources projects.
LISBON -- Columbiana County could see creation of more parks in the next few years, thanks to the county's participation in a state environmental preservation and development program.
Columbiana County Commissioner Jim Hoppel and county park district Chairman Dave Goerig recently became the county's representatives on District 14 of the Natural Resources Advisory Council.
The District 14 council, overseen by the Ohio Public Works Commission, covers an eight-county area that, besides Columbiana County, includes Jefferson, Carroll, Harrison, Tuscarawas, Guernsey, Cochocton and Holmes counties.
Hoppel explained that advisory councils have been founded statewide as part of a program approved last year.
Details: The program makes money available to buy land for use as parks, wildlife habitats, stream preservation and other environmental improvements.
District 14 will receive about $1.9 million from the state in each of the next four years, Hoppel said Friday.
The money will be provided to grant applicants from the eight-county area.
Grant requirements are still being formulated by the council, Hoppel explained.
But in general, applications will be accepted from private nonprofit organizations, park districts, conservation districts and governmental entities.
Grant specifics: The council will favor projects that suggest creating parks and wildlife sanctuaries or purchasing land to help preserve stream watersheds.
Grant money from the council mostly will be used for land acquisition and can't be used to build structures on the property. Funds from other sources can, however, be used for that purpose, Hoppel said.
For example, the council could buy a wood lot, but other money would have to be used to construct a trail and picnic area on it.
The council will award grants based entirely on project merit, as opposed to specific amounts being earmarked for each county in the district, Hoppel said.
He added that he's excited about the program and what it could mean.
"It's going to give us an opportunity to develop green space and to preserve the natural areas that Columbiana County is known for," Hoppel said.

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