Natural resources assistance councils shall review and approve or disapprove applications in accordance with sections 164.20 to 164.27 of the Revised Code for grants for projects that propose to do either of the following:
(A) Provide for open space acquisition and related development of those open spaces, including the aquisition of easements. Open space acquisition projects include acquisition of land or rights in land for parks, forests, wetlands, natural areas that protect an endangered plant or animal population, other natural areas, and connecting corridors for natural areas. Related development projects include projects for the construction or enhancement of facilities that are necessary to make an open space area accessible and useable by the general public. Projects proposed pursuant to division (A) of this section shall emphasize the following:
(1) The support of comprehensive open space planning and incorporation of aesthetically pleasing and ecologically informed design;
(2) The enhancement of economic development that relies on recreation and ecotourism in areas with relatively high unemployment and lower incomes;
(3) The protection of habitat for rare, threatened, and endangered species or the preservation of high quality, viable habitat for plant and animal species;
(4) The preservation of existing high quality wetlands or other scarce natural resources within the geographical jurisdiction of the council;
(5) The enhancement of educational opportunities and provision of physical links to schools and after-school centers;
(6) The preservation or restoration of water quality, natural stream channels, functioning floodplains, wetlands, streamside forests, and other natural features that contribute to the quality of life in this state and to the state's natural heritage. Projects shall not include hydromodification projects such as dams, dredging, sedimentation, and bank clearing and shall not accelerate untreated water runoff or encourage invasive nonnative species.
(7) The reduction or elimination of nonnative, invasive species of plants or animals;
(8) The proper management of areas where safe fishing, hunting, and trapping may take place in a manner that will preserve a balanced natural ecosystem.
(B) Protect and enhance riparian corridors or watersheds, including the protection and enhancement of streams, rivers, lakes, and other waters of the state. Such projects may include, without limitation, the reforestation of land or the planting of vegetation for filtration purposes; the fee simple acquisition of lands for the purpose of providing access to riparian corridors or watersheds or for other purposes necessary for the protection and enhancement of riparian corridors or watersheds; and the acquisition of easements for the purpose of protecting and enhancing riparian corridors or watersheds. Projects proposed pursuant to division (B) of this section shall emphasize the following:
(1) The increase of habitat protection;
(2) Inclusion as part of a stream corridor-wide or watershed-wide plan;
(3) The provision of multiple recreational, economic, and aesthetic preservation benefits;
(4) The preservation or restoration of floodplain and streamside forest functions;
(5) The preservation of headwater streams;
(6) The restoration and preservation of aquatic biological communities.
Projects shall not initiate or perpetuate hydromodification projects such as dams, ditch development, or channelization.
Grant moneys may be used for preliminary costs related to projects that are eligible for funding under this section, including planning costs, design costs, engineering costs, costs of appraisals, environmental assessments, and archaeological surveys.
Effective Date: 05-30-2002