Boating is big business in Ohio

By Dan Armitage, Buckeye Sportsman

National Safe Boating Week is May 20-26, after which Ohio’s boating season unofficially kicks off on Memorial Day Weekend and is big business in the Buckeye State. A new study shows the state’s boating industry produced an economic impact of $6.4 billion in 2022. According to the study, published by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Parks and Watercraft, the boating industry also accounted for 45,856 jobs here in Ohio.

“The boating industry lifts up the economy for local communities all across Ohio,” said Mary Mertz, ODNR Director. “The boost ripples out from the water and into local business, while supporting jobs all along the shores, from marinas and boat dealers on the coast, to restaurants and hotels further inland.”

The study was conducted through a survey of nearly 10,000 boating households and over 200 marine trade businesses.

Other boating habits revealed through the survey:

• In 2022, people spent 315 million hours boating in Ohio

• Fishing accounts for 33.6% of all boating time

• Women are the primary boat operators of 24.3% of all non-motorized boats and 5.4% of all motorized boats.

Economic impact is measured by calculating direct, indirect, and induced effects of spending on boating-related products and activities. Contributions from both recreational boating and the marine trades were calculated in this study. Recreational boating contributed $3.66 billion and 25,476 jobs, while $2.75 billion and 20,380 jobs are attributed to the marine trades industry.

Turkey harvest remains up

Ohio’s wild turkey hunters have checked a total of 12,755 birds through Sunday, May 7 during the 2023 spring hunting season. Last year, hunters harvested 9,353 turkeys over the same time period in the 2022 spring turkey season. The three-year average for wild turkeys checked through this point in the season (2020 to 2022) is 11,784 birds. This year’s total statewide total represents 16 days of hunting since the south zone opened on April 22, nine days of hunting in the northeast zone (Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, and Trumbull counties) since April 29, and the 1,823 turkeys harvested over the two-day youth hunting weekend.

The top 10 counties for wild turkey harvest in the 2023 season so far are Muskingum (368), Gallia (365), Tuscarawas (356), Monroe (347), Belmont (329), Coshocton (323), Meigs (321), Adams (314), Guernsey (308), and Jefferson (306).

The Division of Wildlife has issued 48,231 spring turkey permits that are valid throughout the spring hunting season.

 Hunting in the state’s northeast zone is open until Sunday, May 28. The season in the rest of the state will remain open until Sunday, May 21. Statewide, turkey hunting is now permitted from 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset. The season bag limit is one bearded turkey. Find more information in Ohio’s 2022-23 hunting and trapping regulations booklet.

Buckeye State’s best big bluegill fishery

Division of Wildlife fisheries biologists have set the 2023 special fishing regulations at Lake La Su An Wildlife Area in Williams County, which opened May 5 and is open to fishing until September 4 on Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from sunrise to sunset during the open season. Lake La Su An Wildlife Area is closed to fishing at all other times. Visitors are reminded that reservations are not needed to fish at the lakes on Lake La Su An Wildlife Area, but all vehicles are required to park in a designated parking space.

The sunfish daily limit is 15, with no more than five sunfish of 8 inches or larger. Largemouth bass have an 18-inch minimum length requirement and a five-fish daily limit. Channel catfish have a two-fish daily limit. Daily limits are posted on site and are in effect area wide. Anglers may only catch up to one daily limit regardless of how many lakes are fished. All other statewide fishing regulations apply to the area’s lakes. Anglers are also reminded that no fish may be used as bait on the area.

The regulations are designed by fisheries biologists to continue the tradition of quality bluegill fishing on the Lake La Su An Wildlife Area lakes by limiting the number of days the lakes are open to fishing and the number of sunfish taken home each day.

For more information and a map of fishing access locations, visit the Lake La Su An Wildlife Area page at wildohio.gov.

Woodlands join Old-Growth Forest Network

Two woodlands made up of trees that date back hundreds of years will now forever be protected by the Old-Growth Forest Network (OGFN). The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) helped dedicate Kyle Woods State Nature Preserve (Mahoning County) and Pymatuning State Park (Ashtabula County) in separate ceremonies today.

“I am excited to connect more people with these forests that are so rich in Ohio history,” said Mary Mertz, ODNR Director. “Protecting mature woods and old growth forest remnants is an important part of ODNR’s mission to conserve the state’s natural resources, and I am proud that Ohio is a leader in protecting our woodlands.”

Director Mertz attended the afternoon ceremony at Pymatuning State Park which included recognizing the local park staff who were instrumental in nominating the park for induction.

Two sections of Pymatuning State Park are being recognized including the Big Woods area, which features a 30-acre tract of deeply wooded land including tulip poplars up to 130-foot high. Species at Pymatuning include American basswood and American beech, red oak, shagbark hickory, sugar maple, and yellow birch. An additional 15-acre section is primarily an Eastern hemlock, northern hardwood forest and offers examples of mature American beech, black cherry, cucumber magnolia, Eastern hemlock, red maple, swamp white oak, and yellow birch.

“We are excited to have another state nature preserve join the Old-Growth Forest Network,” said Jeff Johnson, ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves Chief. “We applaud the efforts of the organization to continue their recognition of old growth forest remnants, which are some of Ohio’s most environmentally significant habitats.”

Kyle Woods is a heavily wooded 82-acre site featuring American basswood, cucumber magnolia, wild black cherry, black tupelo, beech, tuliptree, and several species of hickory and oak. Fifty-three acres is joining the network. The site is managed by ODNR’s Division of Natural Areas and Preserves.

“With the addition of Kyle Woods and the mature woods of Pymatuning, Ohio now has 28 forests in the network,” said Brian Kane, Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager of The Old-Growth Forest Network “Ohio and Pennsylvania lead the U.S. in their number of recognized forests.”

The Old-Growth Forest Network aims to preserve at least one forest in every county in the U.S. that can sustain a forest. OGFN works to identify forests for the network, ensure their protection from logging, and inform people of the forest locations.

The ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves is dedicated to preserving and protecting Ohio’s unique natural heritage and restoring the finest land and water resources in the state by managing a system of 143 state nature preserves and 15 scenic rivers. To learn more, visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.

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