Wilds receives $2.2 million to build RV campground

·2 min read

CUMBERLAND — The Wilds recently received a $2.2 million grant to build a 60-acre recreational vehicle campground from the Economic Development Administration via American Rescue Plan funding.

The project is aimed at attracting more tourists to the facility on reclaimed coal mine land along the Appalachian byway and additional visitors to Ohio’s Appalachian region. The EDA investment will be matched with additional funds secured from public and private sources including private donors, State of Ohio and Muskingum County. It's hoped more funding will be committed to the project in the upcoming state capital budget.

The grant will allow building infrastructure basics like a check-in station, shower and bathroom facilities and utilities to the campsites. Additional funding from the state would allow building a second restroom and shower facility, a camp store, a picnic pavilion and several sports courts.

“We are so thankful for this grant. This funding will allow us to create a wonderful campground for families to enjoy and continue to build on our strategic goal of making The Wilds a year-round conservation education destination,” said Tom Schmid, president and CEO of the Columbus Zoo Family of Parks.

The Wilds sits on almost 10,000 acres of lush landscapes that attract nearly 120,000 visitors annually. It operates tours, overnight accommodations, special events and summer camps as a source of revenue.

“This funding will not only bring a much-needed economic boost to the region, it also will bring many more people in touch with The Wilds’ unique experiences, seeing and learning about some of the world’s most endangered species, such as southern white rhino, scimitar horned oryx, African painted dogs and giraffes. We are proud of the scientific and conservation work our team members are doing at The Wilds,” said Dr. Joe Smith, vice president of The Wilds.

This project is funded under EDA’s $240 million competitive American Rescue Plan Travel, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation program. EDA awarded $510 million in grants to all 50 states and territories in 2021. The two programs are designed to accelerate the recovery of communities that rely on the travel, tourism and outdoor recreation sectors.

This article originally appeared on Zanesville Times Recorder: Wilds receives $2.2 million to build RV campground