Great Falls Canal Community Days by Francis Grant-Suttie
Canal Community Days is the C&O Canal Trust’s annual volunteer program. Each year, we recruit and manage hundreds of volunteers to undertake a range of preservation, beautification, maintenance, and conservation projects along the 184.5 mile length of the C&O Canal National Park, working closely with the National Park Service to identify priorities that can be completed by volunteers of all ages.
2021 was a great year for Canal Community Days! Visitation to the Park surged throughout the past year, and our dedicated volunteers helped provide vital support at high visitor use areas.
Canal Community Days launched in the spring with a public event at Great Falls. Utilizing a small group model, volunteers took on a number of preservation and beautification projects. Additional events were held later in the spring and in the fall in Frederick, Montgomery, and Washington Counties. In total, over 250 volunteers removed 2,040 pounds of trash and 790 pounds of invasives from the Park.
In addition to clean-up events, our volunteers also completed other beautifying projects, such as painting picnic tables and fences, filling potholes, spreading mulch, and more. In 2021, volunteers painted 35 picnic tables as well as half the mule barn at Great Falls.
Besides rebranding our popular volunteer program, Canal Community Days (formerly known as Canal Pride), the C&O Canal Trust adopted the Park’s Canal Stewards Program. The Canal Steward program is a volunteer leadership program that allows individuals to adopt a section of the Park and perform beautification projects as well as help lead volunteer projects.
Thank you so much to our volunteers for a successful year in preserving and protecting our Park! We owe much of our success to the hard work of our volunteers. Interested in getting involved with the C&O Canal Trust? Visit https://www.canaltrust.org/programs/volunteer-programs/ for more information.