COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A new Parks Foundation is being formed to enhance visitor experience in Ohio’s 75 state parks.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources made the announcement on Thursday, saying the first priority will be to make the parks more accessible to all Ohioans.

ODNR sites the rise in popularity of Ohio’s state parks during the pandemic as impetus for formation of the Foundation: Between June and October 2020, visitors stayed an additional 72,608 nights in state parks cabins and campgrounds compared to the same period in 2019, according to ODNR.

 “Supporting and enhancing our state parks with the formation of an Ohio State Parks Foundation is supporting Ohio families and park visitors with more opportunities to relax, enjoy, and experience the beauty and wonders of nature in addition to quiet time for reflection and an escape from the challenges and stress of today’s world,” said Foundation member Fran Buchholzer, who is also former ODNR director.

According to ODNR, the Ohio State Parks Foundation will partner with individuals and corporations to support innovative projects in parks throughout Ohio.

The Foundation’s first project will be focused on inclusion, according to ODNR.

According to the release, “Public spaces are for everyone, and the Foundation will focus on ensuring that all visitors feel welcome and safe.”