COLUMBUS – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) presented the ODNR Hall of Fame Award to former Ohio Gov. Bob Taft and First Lady Hope Taft and the Cardinal Award to journalist Jane Beathard. The event, which took place along the banks of the Little Miami River, recognized the Tafts and Beathard for their achievements and ongoing contributions to the preservation and enjoyment of Ohio’s natural resources.
“The leadership and initiative displayed by the Tafts during their time spent in the Governor’s office and even now, has proven to be instrumental in creating protections for Ohio’s lakes and rivers and educating people about our natural history,” ODNR Director James Zehringer said.
Gov. Bob and First Lady Hope Taft have played a large role in Ohio’s history of conservation, including the effort to clean up and protect the Little Miami River, which was Ohio’s first state scenic river and later Ohio’s first national scenic river. Bob Taft also established the Clean Ohio Fund, protecting thousands of acres in Ohio, and put the Great Lakes Compact in place.
Hope Taft has volunteered for conservation causes her entire life, including organizing the Little Miami River Kleeners to further clean up the Little Miami River. She also established the Ohio Heritage Garden and Ohio’s Geological Walk Through Time at the state fairgrounds, which helps educate visitors on the importance of Ohio’s natural history.
Beathard was honored with ODNR’s Cardinal Award. Beathard has been a journalist since 1988, often covering outdoor issues, and also working in communications at ODNR before retiring in 2008. She is currently a journalist for Ohio Outdoor News, and writes for the Madison Press in London, as well as for its sister publication, SALT Magazine. As a journalist who has received several Associated Press awards for her writing, Beathard’s entertaining and informative articles provide valuable, and well-respected, updates about current issues around the state to people who care about Ohio’s natural resources.
“Jane’s career has been spent sharing with Ohioans the countless recreational opportunities available here in the Buckeye State,” Zehringer said. “Her work has undoubtedly encouraged and inspired a generation of outdoorsmen and women.”
The site of the event, the Little Miami River, flows 105 miles through five counties and is one of Ohio’s highest quality river systems. The Little Miami State Park is one of Ohio’s 74 state parks, and ODNR manages 50 miles of the scenic trail. ODNR has invested capital improvement funding in the trail, with phase one and two consisting of paving the trails and some emergency repairs. In conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps and the U.S. National Park Service, ODNR’s phase three will include additional embankment repairs and a portion of the trail being relocated to make it more stable and safe for bikers and hikers who enjoy this beautiful byway.
The Ohio Natural Resources Hall of Fame award was established in 1966 and is Ohio’s top honor for individuals who have made significant contributions to preserving and protecting the state’s water, soil, woodlands, wildlife and mineral resources. The department’s Cardinal Award honors individuals and organizations demonstrating exceptional awareness and concern for ideals reflected in the department’s mission statement.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.