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Kids Can Learn And Exercise On Barkcamp’s Storybook Trail

Photo by Robert A. DeFrank Union Local third-graders taught by Autumn Swallie and intervention specialist Amy Kinder visit Barkcamp State Park on Tuesday along with other students after a new Storybook Trail was unveiled.

BELMONT — Young visitors to Barkcamp State Park can now enjoy a children’s book as they hike down a new Storybook Trail.

The project was brought to the park by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, working in partnership with the Imagination Library and the office of Gov. Mike DeWine. ODNR Director Mary Mertz stopped by Tuesday for the trail’s ribbon-cutting, and park manager Jason Carpenter said the trail is a welcome addition.

“That’s an initiative from the governor and the first lady. They’re putting them in across the state,” Carpenter said. “We happened to get one this year. They’re kind of incrementally placing them in parks. … It’s a trail that’s built with the premise of coupling the outdoors with reading, and I think it’s a wonderful thing. … It’s really a neat thing for the youth of Belmont County and the visitors of Barkcamp.”

He added that he and his staff are proud of the trail.

“We put this trail in a place that didn’t have a trail previously. It was the entrance to a fishing area which was an old, dilapidated bridge. My staff did a phenomenal job rebuilding that bridge and building a staircase into the trail,” Carpenter said.

“That entranceway into that storybook trail is something to behold. It’s a testament to the work ethic and the pride that my staff takes in that park.”

He also commended volunteers from Equitrans Midstream. Carpenter said employees with the natural gas transmission company assisted.

“They worked hand-in-hand with my staff to make it a reality,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter said he and his staff were honored to have Mertz present.

“She’s a great asset to our organization and she’s very forward-thinking,” he said.

Carpenter said watching the reactions of local school children who visited Tuesday was rewarding.

“They seemed to enjoy themselves. I followed some of the kids around the trail, and they had some conversations with the director that were amusing and funny and she seemed to enjoy herself. That’s what that trail is for. It’s for the enjoyment of all Ohioans and all of our visitors.”

Carpenter hopes more visitors will be drawn to the park by the trail. Carpenter said there are 17 storyboards along the trail.

“They’re made to be interchangeable with all the other places that have them … so we can move stories and keep the story fresh. … We can move them to another park and trade with another park to get a different story in,” he explained.

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