The C&O Canal Trust will help fund a comprehensive survey of rare, threatened, and endangered plant species along the trails in the Great Falls area of the C&O Canal National Historical Park, recognized as one of the most biologically diverse parks in the entire national park system. A $64,757 grant will be used by the Park to hire a one-year botany fellow and a four-month botany intern.
The botany fellow will conduct botanical surveys of the area to identify plant species and populations at risk of being disturbed or destroyed by the repair and rehabilitation of the Billy Goat Trail system, planned to begin in 2021. The botany intern will undertake mitigation plantings and translocate plants that will be affected by the planned work. They will also conduct plant surveys on other trails in the Great Falls area to facilitate trail modifications proposed by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) which provides Billy Goat Trail stewardship.
“We need to understand which species are in the project area and where those species may exist, in order to conduct the trail repair and restoration without damaging rare natural resources,” said Andrew Landsman, the C&O Canal National Historical Park’s program manager for Natural Resources and Compliance. “The plans to repair and rehabilitate the Billy Goat Trail system include multiple trail bridges, stairs, water bars, areas of trail relocation, and trail re-grading. The trail repair work cannot occur without these surveys, as information on the rare plants is a critical component of mitigating adverse potential impacts of the repair work to natural resources.”
“We are so pleased to be able to work with the Park to help protect this ecologically-important area,” Robin Zanotti, the Trust’s president, said. “It is a great reminder that the C&O Canal is not only a place of history and recreation, but is also vitally important to the ecology of our region.”