In Ohio, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is the state agency that formulates a long term comprehensive plan and program for the development and wise use of the natural resources of the state. In addition, ODNR licenses all hunting, fishing, and watercraft in the state. It is also responsible for overseeing and permitting all mineral extraction, monitoring dam safety. The ODNR also manages water resources, and coordinates the activity of Ohio’s 88 county soil and water conservation districts. It also maps the state’s major geologic structures and mineral resources. The ODNR also promotes recycling and litter prevention through grant programs in local communities.
As an umbrella organization for such diverse interests, the ODNR pulls all these activities into four fundamental mission components:
- Resource management by sustained productivity of Ohio’s renewable natural resources that promotes the wise use of non-renewable natural resources, and protecting Ohio’s invaluable threatened and endangered natural resources.
- Economic development through job creation,expansion and retention that stimulates local economies, developing industry and tourism opportunities, and supporting the present and future economic health of the state.
- Recreation by providing leisure services and recreation opportunities for the public at all levels.
- Health and safety through fair and consistent law enforcement participating in regulatory matters and identifying and responding to environmental hazards.
Managing Ohio’s resources is one of the ODNR’s primary responsibilities. This involves the following:
- Sustaining the productivity of Ohio’s renewable natural resources such as timber and wildlife;
- Promoting the wise use of Ohio’s non-renewable resources such as oil and gas; and
- Protecting Ohio’s threatened and endangered natural resources such as rare plants and animals.
Eight of ODNR’s 11 divisions are actively involved in resource management. These include the divisions of:
- Geological Survey
- Mineral Resources Management
- Natural Areas and Preserves
- Recycling and Litter Prevention
- Soil and Water
Though each division typically has its own mandates and responsibilities, they often combine their efforts, working together on various management projects to achieve similar goals.
Economic development is another responsibility of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. This involves job creation, expansion, and retention, stimulation of local economies, industry development, promotion of tourism, and management of natural resources to support the present and future economic health of Ohio. All 11 divisions within the ODNR play a role in the state’s economic development.
The ODNR provides leisure services and recreational opportunities to all Ohioans, which currently include 20 state forests, 134 nature preserves, 74 parks, and 138 wildlife areas.
Perhaps least recognized by the general public, but of great importance, is the role that ODNR plays in protecting the health and safety of Ohio’s citizens. The ODNR does this by enforcing regulations, providing law enforcement, and responding to and treating hazardous situations or substances.
The ODNR is dedicated to the development of policies that have far-reaching impact on the environment and natural resources. It is an agency comprised of incredible diversity with a vast understanding of the importance of partnerships with the public. Through these partnerships, the ODNR has accomplished a greater balance between environmental conservation and economic growth for the state.
The following are some additional powers of the ODNR[i]:
- to prepare, or contract to be prepared, surveys, general and detailed plans, specifications, bills of materials, and estimates of cost for, to enter into contracts for, and
- to supervise the performance of labor, the furnishing of materials, or the construction, repair, or maintenance of any projects, improvements, or buildings, on lands and waters under the control of the department, as may be authorized by legislative appropriations or any other funds available therefor.
[i] ORC Ann. 1501.011.