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Trust Leads Successful Spring Clean-Up Events in April

Photo by Francis Grant-Suttie

Spring has sprung in the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP), and with it, the C&O Canal Trust – as the official nonprofit of the Park – has jumped straight into the busiest season of the year. Every spring and summer, as the days get longer and bluebells pop along the towpath seemingly overnight, the C&O Canal Trust begins outdoor programming in various areas of the Park. From Canal Community Days volunteer events to Canal For All service projects to hikes along the towpath, the C&O Canal Trust has had a very active April.

On April 20, the C&O Canal Trust kicked off National Park Week with the launch of the 17th annual Canal Community Days volunteer season at Great Falls. The Trust welcomed over 100 volunteers to one of the highest-visited areas in the Park to make an impact. Volunteers joined different work groups, focusing on various beautification, conservation, maintenance, and preservation projects. In total, volunteers removed one ton of garlic mustard, collected 75 pounds of trash, spread 45 pounds of grass seed and 10 tons of topsoil, distributed 14 cubic yards of mulch, stained the Charles F. Mercer canal boat, and filled 100 yards of potholes found on the towpath.

During the event, Trust President & CEO, Lauren Riviello, welcomed the group to Great Falls, sharing:

“​​Volunteers make an enormous impact in stewarding the C&O Canal National Historical Park each year. Since 2007, volunteers have contributed $1.5 million of in-kind support to the park through the C&O Canal Trust’s programs. We are grateful for the work of our volunteers who came out to support the park and our long-term volunteers who dedicate their time and talents to protect and preserve the C&O Canal for all of us now and in the future.”

Photos by Francis Grant-Suttie

Several community partner organizations for joined us at Great Falls: the Children & Youth Organization of Maryland, Clark Construction, Community Bridges, The Dartmouth Club of Washington, DC, Exelon, Exelon Foundation STEM Academy, Friends of the Historic Great Falls Tavern, Girls Who Hike, Landon School, and TeenWorks.

A special thank you, too, to Diana Eisenstat, with Senator Chris Van Hollen’s office, Marland State Delegates Marc Korman and Linda Foley, and Montgomery County Council President Andrew Friedson for joining us to recognize the value the C&O Canal National Historical Park brings to our communities and the important role volunteers play in caring for our natural spaces.

The next day, the Trust held a Canal For All event with the PeaceJam chapter of American University in Georgetown. Together, volunteers removed 300 pounds of trash and debris from the towpath and dry sections of the canal prism from Lock 3 to Key Bridge.

Volunteers also play a critical role in the Trust’s Canal Quarters program. Throughout April, the Trust engaged volunteer Quartermasters in cleanup events at various rehabilitated lockhouses. Together, Quartermasters painted and repaired picnic tables, porches, and staircases, cleaned windows and fire pits, and maintained the lawns and greenery at Lockhouses 6, 10, and 21.

It isn’t all work, however. The C&O Canal Trust partnered with the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy on April 27 and led a hike from Rileys to Violettes Lock, where staff shared information about the Park’s natural resources – specifically native plants; invasive plant management; and Rare, Threatened, and Endangered plants. Participants were able to spot and identify plants along the trail and left the event with a larger understanding of the canal’s incredible biodiversity.

Throughout the remainder of the spring and summer seasons, the Trust will be focused on preservation efforts in the form of beautification events with Canal For All partners and the public during larger Canal Community Days events and private corporate stewardship. We are grateful for the support of our local canal community and look forward to growing our support for the Park in 2024.

PeaceJam pose for a photo after a day cleaning up trash in Georgetown. By Trust Staff.

Quartermasters enjoy a break and refreshments after a work day at Lockhouse 10. By Trust Staff.

Trust staff lead Celebrate Trails Day walk at Rileys Lock. By Trust Staff.