Lawrence County wants to pull in more paddlers. Kayaking, canoeing, and paddle-boarding are among the fastest-growing outdoor sports. Participation in paddling sports has seen a 60% increase over the fast few years. Compare that to a 5% decline from 2017 to 2018 for golfing.
While Shawnee State Park is jumping on the paddling bandwagon by combining the ponds from the former golf course in a paddling course, Lawrence County already has the 32-mile-long Arthur S. Ferguson Canoe Trail that runs along Symmes Creek to the Ohio River. The problem is that not everybody knows how to find the launches to use the waterway. There is a rough map here but it has been nearly 10 years since it’s been updated.
That’s why the county is applying to an Ohio Department of Natural Resources grant to help folks get their kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards in the water. ODNR is offering $500,000 in grant money to improve access to hand-powered boating. Applicants can apply for up to $75,000 per grant. Grant money may be used for the following:
- Improving existing paddling sites and safety
- Promoting or improving Ohio’s designated water trails
- Meeting Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines
- Locating a project within a designated water trail or proposed water trail
- Connecting paddlers to shopping, restaurants, of hotels
- Shovel-ready projects
Lawrence County will be asking for funds to put in road signs to direct people to each of the six launch sites for the Fergusen trail. There’s also a request for a grant to work with local students to design improvements for launches and plans to help make the launches ADA compliant to ensure that everyone can enjoy the natural beauty of Lawrence County.
County Commissioner DeAnna Holliday said this is just the beginning of making Lawrence County a tourist destination and that attractions like paddling will help bring families to the area.