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 C&O Canal Association

National Park Service News Releases

January 22, 2015 – New and Updated Locations Announced for C&O Canal NHP Public Meetings on Fee Proposals

FAQs on Fee Proposal Posted Online

Contact: John Noel, Deputy Superintendent, 301-714-2201, or john_noel@nps.gov

HAGERSTOWN, MD –Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park (C&O Canal) has added public meetings in Hancock, MD and Shepherdstown, W.Va. and rescheduled the meeting in Brunswick, MD to discuss the park’s proposal to increase and expand entrance and other fees park-wide.  The updated meeting schedule is as follows:

C&O Canal has prepared frequently asked questions to assist in answering questions regarding the proposal. To read these, as well as other information and provide comments on the proposal through February 22, please visit:  http://parkplanning.nps.gov/cocanalfees  

Following the comment period and public meetings, feedback will determine how, or if, a fee increase would be implemented.

January 5, 2015 – C&O Canal Invites Feedback on Proposal to Increase and Expand Entrance and Other Fees Park-wide

Contact: John Noel, Deputy Superintendent, 301-714-2201, or john_noel@nps.gov

HAGERSTOWN, MD – Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park (C&O Canal) in compliance with a nation-wide review on updating entrance fees is inviting the public to comment on proposed entrance and other fee increases.  Fees collected at the park are critical to the park's operation, and 100%of the fees collected at the C&O Canal are invested in park projects that improve facilities and experiences for park visitors.

In a memo dated September 5, 2014, National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, authorized park superintendents to begin a civic engagement process associated with increasing entrance fees within units of the National Park System. In an effort to standardize entrance fees, the 131 units that charge entrance fees have been placed in one of four categories based on size, complexity of operations and typical visitation patterns. To arrive at greater consistency around the Service, parks have been asked to bring their fees into compliance with others within their category.  C&O Canal is in Category 1. Other similar parks within Category 1 in this region include: Antietam National Battlefield; Fort Washington Park; Great Falls Park, Virginia; Harpers Ferry National Historical Park; Manassas National Battlefield Park, and Prince William Forest Park.

C&O Canal’s current park entrance fee has been in place since 2002. The only location in the park where an entrance fee is charged is at the Great Falls Tavern area off of MacArthur Boulevard in Potomac, MD. The park proposes to expand entrance fee collection to all areas of the park outside of the District of Columbia and to implement a parking fee at Fletchers Cove.  As part of this fee expansion, the park proposes to discontinue the reciprocal agreement currently in place with Great Falls Park, Virginia, which allows visitors to purchase a day pass or annual pass that is valid at both the C&O Canal and Great Falls Park, VA entrance stations.  

The park also proposes to extend the daily pass effective dates from three days to seven days to better align with popular recreational activities, such as cycling the 184.5 mile towpath.

The proposed entrance/parking fees that would become effective no sooner than May 1, 2015 are as follows:

 Park Annual Pass:

Per Vehicle Pass:                 

Per Person Pass:

Motorcycle Pass:

Entrance fees are not charged to persons under 16 years of age or holders of the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Senior, Access or Military Passes. These passes may be obtained at the park. In addition, the park offers at least six fee-free days per year.

C&O Canal NHP is also proposing to increase or institute fees for campgrounds, picnic pavilions and parking at Fletchers Cove. Comparability studies have been completed to determine rates. The proposals are as follows:

Drive-In Campgrounds

Hiker-Biker Camping Sites: Current: No Charge, Proposed $20 per night

Picnic Pavilion: Carderock Pavilion

Parking: Fletchers Cove - There is currently no parking charge; however, the option to establish a parking charge is being evaluated and proposed for comment.

“We are committed to keeping the park affordable and providing visitors with the best possible experiences,” Superintendent Kevin Brandt said. “Fee revenue is absolutely critical to the park operation, and we ask for the public's feedback and support. National Parks are still one of America's best bargains. I don't know of anything a family can do for 7 days for just $15. The entrance fee provides full access to the park including: the historic towpath; more than 17 miles of backcountry trails; numerous visitor centers and interpretive programs and access to the Potomac River. The park is a popular place where people come to recreate, to learn, to be challenged physically and to be inspired and renewed; however, the park cannot run itself for free, and our fee revenue is essential to providing for public safety, recreation and resource protection.”

Entrance fees have supported a wide range of projects that improved park conditions and visitor experience including: restoration of the Great Falls Tavern, Western Maryland Railroad Lift Bridge, Lockhouse 44, Ferry Hill Plantation and Hancock Visitor Centers; new picnic tables, grills and fire rings for campgrounds throughout park; developing and installing exhibits in visitor centers such as Great Falls and Ferry Hill Plantation; repairing park wells and hand pumps; removing trees from the canal, installation of a water fountain in Williamsport; restoration of historic lockhouses; improving ADA accessibility at park comfort stations, repairing replica canal boats used in interpretive and education programs, and rehabilitation of the CCC era restroom in Great Falls into a space for the free Bike Loaner program. Additional revenue raised by a fee increase could be used to restore additional historic structures such as Swains Lockhouse;  Conococheague, Tonoloway and Seneca Creek aqueducts ; expand the park’s ability to maintain the towpath; improve campground safety by establishing campground host sites at drive-in campgrounds; restore water in the canal between Lock 5 and Anglers; extend the re-watered section of the canal in Hancock; preservation work on the Paw Paw Tunnel; improve river access at Fletchers Cove and Dam #4, and increase interpretive and educational programming park-wide.   

The C&O Canal is a strong economic engine for the area. In 2013, the C&O Canal hosted nearly 5 million visitors who contributed more than $80 million to the local economy and supported more than 1,000 jobs related to tourism.

To provide comments on the proposed fee increases, go to:  http://parkplanning.nps.gov/cocanalfees    The public has the opportunity to comment on the increases for a 48-day period ending on February 22, 2015. Written comments should be provided through this website.

Interested citizens are invited to discuss the proposed fee increases at public meetings to be held in various locations around the park as follows:

Following the comment period and public meetings, feedback will determine how, or if, a fee increase would be implemented.

December 19, 2014 – C&O Canal Association receives grant from 2014 Challenge Cost Share Program

Contact: Ben Helwig, Acting Chief, Interpretation, Education and Partnerships, 301-491-6259

CUMBERLAND, MD – Today the National Park Service and the Outdoor Foundation announced recipients of the 2014 Challenge Cost Share Program, which supports projects that promote urban outreach, youth engagement and connecting people to the outdoors. The partners selected 20 projects, from 187 applications, and will award nearly $400,000 that will be matched by an additional $885,000 in direct and in-kind contributions from recipients. A total of 14,000 youth are expected to be engaged through the program.

The C&O Canal Association received $15,000 to support its work to engage Maryland school children as well as nearby Pennsylvania and West Virginia youth at the replica canal boat The Cumberland.  Located in Cumberland, Maryland, the full-sized replica canal boat is used to interpret the canal story to elementary and middle school children in the region.  The project is being completed in conjunction with Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park and a second park partner, the Canal Place Preservation & Development Authority (CPPDA). Grant funds will allow for replacement of boat decking, window repair, improvement of the drainage systems and other work to extend the life of the boat. 

Situated at the terminus of the C & O Canal and built in 1976 as a Bicentennial project, The Cumberland allows National Park Service staff a great opportunity to introduce local youth to the history of the canal at Cumberland and the environmental connections between the C &O Canal and the Potomac River. About 2,500 visitors, primarily school children, tour the boat each year; however, with improvements and repairs to the boat, coupled with a major expansion of park curriculum based education programs at Cumberland, we expect to double visitation to “The Cumberland”.

“C&O Canal Association is pleased to expand our support to the educational opportunities of the C&O Canal NHP in Cumberland.  This matching grant will permit completion of the deferred repairs and should result in another 20 years of service for the replica boat.  What a great opportunity this presents”, says William Bauman, a member of the Association’s Board of Directors.

 “Nowhere else in the western district of the park, can students get a hands-on understanding of the C&O Canal from a boatman’s perspective,” stated C&O Canal Superintendent Kevin Brandt, “Youth are able to climb aboard the Cumberland and step back into the 19th century, exploring a range of topics from family life to the design and operation of cargo boats on the canal.”

“Repairs to The Cumberland were critical,” said Deidra Ritchie, Executive Director, CPPDA, “We could not have moved forward with the repairs if not for the C&O Canal Association and the National Park Service's time and funding.  It is a perfect example of partnerships and we certainly appreciate all the time and effort.”

C&O Canal Association members have been helping staff The Cumberland replica canal boat during scheduled student tours for many years.  The Association is now seeking volunteers who will help staff the boat on summer weekends and thus have the boat open to the general public, in addition to the scheduled student tours.  Please visit http://www.candocanal.org/volunteer.html for more info.

The Challenge Cost Share Program supports National Park Service parks and programs that are aligned with partners that promote urban outreach, youth engagement, and/or connecting people to the outdoors. The initiative requires a 1:1 match by the local recipient -- resulting in greater financial leverage and impact. In addition, the Outdoor Foundation is actively seeking additional support for the selected projects. Program priorities include:

 “The Outdoor Foundation is thrilled to partner with the National Park Service to reconnect Americans to their national parks and engage a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts and stewards,” said Chris Fanning, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation. “The Challenge Cost Share program is one of the most effective initiatives that leverages public and private funds and invests in local partnerships that deliver results.”

The Outdoor Foundation

The Outdoor Foundation is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and growing future generations of outdoor leaders and enthusiasts. Through groundbreaking research, youth engagement and community grant-making, the Foundation works with young leaders and partners to mobilize a major cultural shift that leads all Americans to the great outdoors. In just five years, the Foundation has invested $4 million into 500 not-for-profit and college programs that have connected 200,000 young people to the outdoors. Importantly, 90¢ of every dollar goes directly into this critical work. Visit us at OutdoorFoundation.org.

December 17, 2014 – C&O Canal hiring local educators at Great Falls

Contact: Hollie Lynch, Education Coordinator, (301) 491-0149

POTOMAC, MD – The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park (C&O Canal) seeks local educators to assist with delivery of new park education programs in Montgomery County, Maryland. The C&O Canal Trust, the park’s official non-profit partner, will offer a daily stipend to educators. A training workshop will be held for new recruits in February 2015 at the C&O Canal Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center. Educators will work side-by-side with park staff to deliver outdoor education programs along the historic canal towpath and the Potomac Gorge area.

C&O Canal partnered with Montgomery County Public School teachers to develop new education programs for elementary, middle and high school students and are piloting new programs during the 2014-15 school year. The programs encourage students to explore their local national park and support national and state curriculum standards. During the field trips, each class will work on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) activities specifically tailored to its grade level.  Complementary classroom and on-line activities will focus on vocabulary, reading, and writing. Bus scholarships are available and will help schools afford the cost of transportation for their field trip.

To apply for the Canal Classroom Corps position, please contact the C&O Canal Education Office at cocanaleducation@nps.gov or by calling 301-714-2213.

December 11 2014 – Park announces new Deputy Superintendent

Contact: Hollie Lynch, hollie_lynch@nps.gov, 301-491-0149

HAGERSTOWN, MD – The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park (C&O Canal) is pleased to announce John A. Noel has been selected as the park’s Deputy Superintendent effective November 16, 2014.

As Deputy Superintendent, Mr. Noel will be responsible for the day to day operations of the C&O Canal, which directly impacts the experience of more than 5 million annual visitors. The diversity of Mr. Noel’s responsibilities is evident in the unique characteristics of the C&O Canal’s resources and operations which range from robust interpretive, education and volunteer programs, to protecting and preserving thousands of natural and cultural resources in the 184.5 miles of park, spanning across the state of Maryland and into the District of Columbia.  

“As the national parks approach their centennial in 2016 and plan for a second century of engagement with the American public, John is ideally qualified to serve as the park’s deputy superintendent,” stated C&O Canal Superintendent Kevin D. Brandt. “John is an experienced manager who has taken on increasingly more challenging positions and performed transformational work to develop interpretive and educational programs that reach new audiences and utilize new technologies to build relevancy.”

During his fourteen years working for the National Park Service, Mr. Noel has held several positions at the C&O Canal. In 2001 Mr. Noel began volunteering at the C&O Canal’s Williamsport Visitor Center before joining the park staff as the C&O Canal’s Volunteer Coordinator where he built a robust volunteer program that won the highest recognition among national parks and federal agencies, respectively. As the park’s Partnership Coordinator Mr. Noel brought more than $3.5 million into the park through partners. His success eventually led to the establishment of the Division of Partnerships and Volunteers, where Mr. Noel brought more than $12 million to the park for a variety of historic preservation projects. Since 2012 Mr. Noel has served as the Chief, Division of Interpretation, Education and Partnerships, where he has led the merging of two divisions, revamped the interpretive and educational programs, developed and implemented a digital media plan, and managed day to day operations throughout the park. “I am pleased to accept the responsibilities of managing park operations” stated John Noel, “I most look forward to working with a great team of staff, partners and local communities as we serve millions of visitors each year.”

Mr. Noel is a native of the DC area and a graduate of Mt. St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland where he earned a B.S. in accounting with a minor in finance. Post-graduation he became a certified public accountant in Maryland and earned a professional certificate in historic preservation from Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Prior to working for the National Park Service, he had a successful 18 year career in sales and accounting. Mr. Noel resides with his wife and children in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

October 23, 2014 – C&O Canal Association provides bus funding for Washington County Public School fourth graders

Contact: Dward Moore, President, C&O Canal Association, president@candocanal.org, 301- 983-0825
Hollie Lynch, Education Coordinator, (301) 491-0149, Hollie_lynch@nps.gov

WILLIAMSPORT, MD. – On Thursday, October 23, 2014 at 11:00, students from Bester Elementary School, part of Washington County Public Schools, participated in a check hand-off event with members from the C&O Canal Association at the C&O Canal National Historical Park (C&O Canal) Cushwa Basin in Williamsport, Maryland.group posing with check

The generous amount donated by the C&O Canal Association, a non-profit organization, covers the cost of bus transportation to bring every fourth grader from Washington County Public Schools to the C&O Canal for an education field trip during the 2014-15 school year. The $4,000 donation is part of a larger 2013 pledge of $30,000 on behalf of the C&O Canal Association to assist schools seeking bus funding to visit the C&O Canal. This marks the second consecutive year of support from the pledge. The C&O Canal Association has provided students from Washington County and other school districts bus funding for several years.

“The Association is pleased to provide bus transportation to the fourth-grade students of Washington County. They are our future. If the Park is to survive, we must engage everyone, especially the younger generation,” said C&O Canal Association president, Dward Moore.

As a result of this important donation, 65 Bester students spent their day learning in an outdoor classroom at their local national park. During their visit students participated in a variety of hands-on, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) based lessons that are both engaging and fun. Education programs were developed in partnership with Washington County Public School teachers and are part of a growing education program in the park, Canal Classrooms, which features PreK-12 options for curriculum education at the C&O Canal. All programs identify with national and state curriculum standards and include pre/post visit materials.

“We are very grateful for the great partnership with the C&O Canal Association,” said C&O Canal Superintendent Kevin Brandt. “Without their support it would be impossible for so many students to visit the park each year and participate in a curriculum education program. “

The C&O Canal Classrooms education program focuses on building a sustainable program, which it hopes to attain, in part, through leveraging partnerships. A Transportation Scholarship Fund, which offers bus stipends to schools planning field trips, was established to help provide opportunities for more students to visit and learn about the C&O Canal. For more information on Canal Classrooms visit www.nps.gov/choh or email the Park at cocanaleducation@nps.gov.

September 8, 2014 – C&O Canal Invites Public to Comment on the Restoration of Canal Operations at Hancock

Contact: Michelle Carter, 301-714-2225

WASHINGTON COUNTY, MD – The National Park Service, Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, is conducting a public review of the Restoration of Canal Operations at Hancock, Maryland, Environmental Assessment, September 2014.

The National Park Service will be accepting public review comments beginning September 8, 2014 through October 10, 2014.  The draft Environmental Assessment presents information on projected impacts to park resources from the proposed project to Restore Canal Operations at Hancock, Maryland.  The project area begins at towpath Mile 122.12 and ends at towpath Mile 124.59.  This area includes: Locks 51, Lock 52, the Bowles (Little) Farm, the Tonoloway Aqueduct, canal prism, canal boat basin, Little Tonoloway Picnic Area, and the Little Tonoloway Boat Ramp.  The project proposes several preservation, restoration, and development projects within the Hancock area.

In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act the National Park Service invites public comments regarding this project. Comments received will be used to evaluate this project.

A public meeting will be held on September 24, 2014 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM at the Hancock Town Hall, 126 W. High Street, Hancock, MD.  The public is invited to attend the Open House any time during these hours.

Further information about this project is located on the National Park Service Planning, Environment & Public Comment website http://parkplanning.nps.gov/choh.  Written comments should be submitted through this website.

     C & O Canal Association     P.O Box 366      Glen Echo, MD 20812-0366     Phone: 301-983-0825      Email: inquiries@candocanal.org