National Park Service News Releases
May 9, 2016 – C&O Canal and Volunteers Win National Park Service Hartzog Award
Contact: Emily Hewitt, 301-714-2219
HAGERSTOWN, MD –The C&O Canal National Historical Park and two of its outstanding volunteers were recently the recipients of both regional and national-level National Park Service volunteer awards. Steve Dean, Vinh Le-Si, and the C&O Canal Volunteer Program were all awarded George and Helen Hartzog Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service.
Vinh Le-Si was the recipient of the national Hartzog Individual Volunteer Award. Vinh contributed more than 1,000 volunteer hours to the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park in 2015 and was a driving force behind many of the projects that directly benefited park visitors and volunteer staff. As a member of the Bike Patrol, Vinh volunteered on two patrols per week during riding season, covering a 23 mile stretch from Georgetown to the Seneca Aqueduct. Vinh also served as a member of the Bike Loaner Program and volunteered 76 hours to update the park bulletin boards with accurate information for visitors. Vinh’s most exceptional achievement was the repair of the park’s canal boat, the Charles F. Mercer. He recruited a volunteer boat maintenance crew to help identify and address the maintenance needs of the boat. He also worked with the Friends of Historic Great Falls Tavern, a park partner, to garner technical and financial support.
Steve Dean was the recipient of the regional Hartzog Enduring Service Award. Steve began serving as a volunteer in 1991 and contributed nearly 1,400 hours of volunteer service to the park in 2015 alone. He served as the chair member of the Level Walker program, assisted with maintenance of the Lock 38 area as a Canal Steward, participated on the C&O Canal Association Volunteers-in-Parks Team and served as a documentarian for the park’s historical culverts. Steve also spearheaded a two-year effort to reproduce the park handbook. He led the revision of both text and maps, recruited volunteers and park staff to contribute their expertise and added 20 pages to the handbook. Steve worked with the C&O Canal Association, a park partner, to copyright the handbook and pay for its publication. All proceeds from the book will be reinvested in the park’s education programs.
Finally, the C&O Canal’s own volunteer program was the recipient of the Hartzog Park Volunteer Program Award. Through the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal volunteer program, 3,620 volunteers contributed 78,012 hours to the park in 2015. Partnerships with the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, the C&O Canal Association, Georgetown Heritage and the C&O Canal Trust helped make this program successful.
Volunteer roles in the park include staffing the Hancock Visitor Center every summer weekend, serving on a bike patrol along the canal towpath and providing visitor assistance with first aid and trail information, and repairing the park’s canal boat, the Charles F. Mercer. The completion of necessary boat repairs will allow the Mercer to carry students and park visitors on educational boat rides this spring and summer.
"When a VIP agrees to share his talents, skills and interests with the National Park Service, he is paying us one of the highest compliments possible by offering a most valued possession - his time." (George B. Hartzog, Jr., Director, National Park Service, 1964-1972).
In 1970, the Volunteers-In-Parks (VIP) program started with a few hundred volunteers. Today, more than 246,000 VIPs donate their time, skills, and talents to the National Park Service every year. The George and Helen Hartzog Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service recognize the exemplary contributions of these very important people.
April 22, 2016 – C&O Canal introduces new family program during National Park Week
Contact: Hollie Lynch, Education Coordinator, 301-491-0149
HAGERSTOWN, MD – To celebrate National Park Week and the Centennial of the National Park Service the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park is introducing a new family program for park visitors starting Saturday, April 23rd. Co-designed by teachers and park rangers, the program offers youth and their families an opportunity to explore nature and history in the park using pre-made backpack kits filled with activities and tools. Each backpack contains various activities geared for ages 3 and up. Backpacks can be checked out at the park’s three main visitor centers: Great Falls (located in Potomac, MD/Montgomery County), Williamsport (located in Williamsport, MD/Washington County) and Cumberland (located in Cumberland, MD/Allegany County).
This self-guided program is free,and families can check out a backpack for up to 4 hours.“We are excited to introduce a new program that will empower families and youth to get outside and explore their local national park,” stated C&O Canal Superintendent Kevin Brandt.
For more information on the backpack program please contact your local C&O Canal Visitor Center and ask about details. Park visitor center locations and contact information can be found at www.nps.gov/choh.
April 20, 2016 – Water Pumps Working Along the C&O Canal NHP Towpath
HAGERSTOWN, MD – In preparation for the summer season, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park has turned on most drinking fountains and reattached handles to water pumps along the towpath. Water is currently unavailable at the Lock 5 area restroom at mile marker 5 in Brookmont, MD. and the Killansburg Cave Hiker Biker campsite at mile marker 75.08, just outside Shepherdstown, WV.
At Killansburg Cave, the well pump handle is expected to be re-attached within two weeks. At Lock 5, a burst pipe has resulted in a water shut down. Estimated time for repair at Lock 5 has not been determined. All other water pumps in hiker biker campsites or drive in campsites are operational. Updates on the status of water throughout the park are available on the park website throughout the season at: www.nps.gov/choh
“These water pumps and drinking fountains are a resource for our visitors whether they are biking, hiking, camping, or enjoying the C&O Canal,” said C&O Canal NHP Chief of Interpretation, Education, and Volunteers, Catherine Bragaw.
If you have any questions concerning the well pumps within the C&O Canal, please contact Greg Kniesler, Chief of Maintenance, at 301-714-2211.
December 23, 2015 – C&O Canal National Historical Park Receives Field Trip Grant From The National Park Foundation
HAGERSTOWN, MD –Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park (C&O Canal) is one of 186 national parks selected to receive a 2015 field trip grant from the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks. Funding received will support the C&O Canal’s Transportation Scholarship Program, providing bus funding to underserved students wishing to visit the park for education programs. The grant will specifically help to reach new student audiences from nearby West Virginia schools, bringing them to visit the C&O Canal National Historical Park at Williamsport, Maryland.
“It is inspiring to see the National Park Foundation and many other partners step up to support our goal of getting fourth graders and their families into parks, public lands and waters that belong to all Americans," said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. "These generous grants will ensure children across the country have an opportunity to experience the great outdoors in their community while developing a lifelong connection to our nation’s land, water and wildlife."
National Park Foundation grants have made it possible for more than 400,000 students (including this year’s grantees) to visit national parks and other public lands and waters.
“We want to help people everywhere, from all backgrounds, discover how national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and other public lands and waters are relevant to their lives, and the best way to do that is to give people the opportunity to experience them first-hand,” said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation. “Through our grants that provide funding for transportation and in-park learning, we are able to connect youth and their families to these special places and inspire people across the country to find their park which, in turn, can foster a lifelong connection to all that public lands and waters have to offer.”
Through this grant, students will participate in both classroom and on-site activities that are designed to be hands-on and support national and state learning standards. Teachers will have access to a suite of pre and post visit activities, videos, primary sources and more.
“Given its size and location, the C&O Canal is able to connect with thousands of students in neighboring communities and school districts through Maryland, DC and West Virginia,” said Kevin Brandt, C&O Canal superintendent. “We are grateful for this opportunity to reach out to future national park stewards and provide them with support to visit their national park.”
For the full list of grantees, and their projects, visit www.nationalparks.org/everykidinapark.
December 11, 2015 – C&O Canal NHP Reaches Decision on Hazard Tree Management for Developed Areas in Montgomery County
Contact: Catherine Bragaw, Public Information Officer, 301-714-2238
POTOMAC, MD – The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park (C&O Canal) will move forward with hazardous tree maintenance at three locations in Montgomery County that include Swains Lock Hiker-Biker Campground, Rileys Lockhouse Day Use Area and Marsden Tract Group Campground. The work will begin as soon as park contractors can be scheduled. The affected areas will remain open with some partial closures. The decision was reached following a rigorous evaluation that included onsite public meetings and consultation with a National Park Service hydrologist, landscape architect and certified arborist. Because of the additional evaluation one tree will be pruned rather than removed at the Swains Lock Hiker-Biker Campground.
“We truly appreciate all the public input into this important issue; these are not choices we make lightly,” Superintendent Kevin Brandt said. “Because Swains is well-loved by our neighbors and tourists alike, we believe it is best to immediately address the safety concerns so all of our visitors can continue to use this area, while making a public commitment to re-vegetate the impacted areas when the weather is appropriate.”
The decision was made for the safety of park visitors and allows these popular areas to remain open for people to enjoy. Some tall stumps of removed trees will remain to serve as wildlife habitat, and the park is planning to restore these areas through a replanting effort in the spring of 2016. When planting is deemed appropriate, the park consults the Restoration and Re-vegetation Protocols for the C&O Canal National Historical Park (2010) and any applicable laws or regulations; plantings consist of species that are native to the park or that are historically appropriate. Information on this protocol can be found at: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/canalhazardtree.To help inform the public about the park’s decision making, the C&O Canal has released a resource brief titled, Developed Area Vegetation Management, which outlines treatment of trees and other vegetation within developed areas of the park. The resource brief can be found at: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/canalhazardtree.