Ohio is really made up of a patchwork of lands and terrains, each unique, and each diverse in what it provides travelers visiting the area. But when you start examining the state's regions you see some natural divisions in the state besides just east, west, north and south. In each region the land is different and it is used differently. Also, in the early development of the state, each of these areas attracted different types of settlers, that created a unique culture for each region.
More than a million acres of Ohio are woodlands. There are some 164,000 acres of woodlands in 60 of our 88 counties, and some 74 state parks, that have been preserved just for you, your children and your great grand children.
There are 12 major river systems in the state, with over 700 miles designated as Ohio State Scenic Rivers. Most of these waterways are available for study, canoeing, fishing, and just visiting. Ohio has led the nation in protecting its pristine rivers and streams through the scenic river program which started in 1968. We still have a long way to go in preserving our waterways, but at least we've started to make a difference.
To commemorate Ohio's bicentennial in 2003, barn painter Scott Hagan painted a bicentennial mural on a barn in each of Ohio's 88 counties. As you travel throughout the state, especially on the backroad's, be on the look out for these barns. The last barn Scott painted with the official Bicentennial logo was in Sandusky County at the Sandusky County Fairgrounds in Freemont. The first barn he painted was in Belmont County on SR 149, about 1/2 mile south of I-70.
The Native American's living in Ohio were really great stewards of the land. As more and more settlers moved in, they pushed out the Native Americans and forced them to go elsewhere.
With the promise of so much natural wealth at their fingertips, there was little regard to protecting that wealth. In just 6 short decades from the time Ohio became a state, almost the entire woodland areas were completely gone. Our forefathers did not understand what they had, nor did they see any reason for preserving it. They used it all up.
There is a great new book titled: Ohio Then & Now, by Randall Schieber and Robin Smith. Through careful research and dedication, they have taken early photographs of the state, and recreated the image as the scene looks today. The difference is startling. The thing you notice the most, is that today the state has trees— an abundance of trees that were almost completely missing from these early images. Even urban images that were mostly barren of trees, now have trees.
We cannot let that ever happen again. Our land is what ties all of our regions and our people together. We may not have the splendor of the Rockies in our backyard, but we do have the Hocking Hills. We may not have expansive ocean views, but we do have Lake Erie, and all the rivers and streams flowing north into the lake and of course, we have the Ohio River and all the rivers and streams that flow into it. All of us have a direct connection with these natural features and should protect them in everything we do.