C&O Canal Update – August 19

All,

Here is the latest update from the park.

Thanks, Steve

Dear Volunteers,
Here is the latest news –
The Billy Goat Trail-A is back open, but Billy Goat Trail-C is still closed due to hazard trees.
The National Park Service is offering the following training opportunity. Please note, this webinar is not being conducted by C&O Canal staff. It is being offered by the NPS Horace M. Albright Training Center. The NPS and You–An Introduction to the NPS Mission Webinar: Join this webinar on August 26 from 2:30 – 4:30 PM or September 9 from 2-4 PM to explore foundational concepts that contribute to the success of all employees, volunteers, and partners to meet the mission of the National Park Service. During this two-hour webinar, you will look at what makes a park unit nationally significant and build connections between the work you do and the mission of the National Park Service. They will also cover how to find additional resources for you to continue your orientation to the agency after the webinar. The webinar is open to all employees, volunteers, and partners.
Click HERE to register for the August 26 webinar, or click HERE to register for the September 9 webinar. 
The park recently shared the Volunteer Program Action Plan, and we are holding listening sessions to answer questions about the Action Plan. Please email emily_hewitt@nps.gov if you would like to participate in a session. There are still several spots available in each of the following sessions:

  • August 20 @ 10:30am via conference call 
  • August 24 @ 8:30am via Microsoft Teams
  • August 31 @ 9am via conference call

Thank you and stay well,
Emily Durán Hewitt

C&O Canal Update – August 13

Hello Level Walkers,

Here is the latest update from the park.
Thanks, Steve


Dear Volunteers, 
Here is the latest park news:

  • The Billy Goat A & C trails are still closed due to hazard trees caused by the tropical storm. Tree crews have been working to clear the trees this week and the park anticipates being able to open Billy Goat A by this weekend. When the trail is open, the park will update the alerts page on the website. 
  • Damage to the Seneca Aqueduct railing was discovered, but park Maintenance has already repaired the railing and the Seneca Aqueduct is passable.  
  • For FY19, the park nominated the C&O Canal Trust for the Hartzog Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service for a Group. We are pleased to announce that the Canal Trust won the regional award! Their work with volunteer projects such as Canal Pride Days and groups such as TeenWorks provide communities opportunities to engage in stewardship of the C&O Canal resource. The Canal Trust Quartermasters program has long been a successful way to engage volunteers in the protection and maintenance of the restored Canal Quarters lockhouses. A big congratulations to the C&O Canal Trust for this prestigious volunteer award!

Stay well, 
Emily Durán Hewitt

C&O Canal Update – August 5th

Hello,

I hope everyone got through the storm without problems. Here’s an update from the park.

Thanks, Steve


Dear Volunteers,

The park fared pretty well during Tropical Storm Isaias. A number of trees did come down in the park, and both Billy Goat Trails A & C are closed due to fallen trees that will be cleared by park staff as soon as possible. When those trails reopen, the park will update the alerts page on the website.

If you decide to visit the park this week, be aware and stay safe. Check the park Facebook page before your visit for the latest conditions.

Stay well,  Emily Durán Hewitt


Image – hazard downed tree on the canal – photographer and location not identified

C&O Canal Update – July 29

Hello Level Walkers,

Here is the latest update from the park.

OBTW – if you have been reactivated you can ignore the note in the below message  – continue to send your hours to me as part of your report and I will submit them.

Thanks for all you do!

Steve


Dear Volunteers,
Today is the 50th anniversary of when Public Law 91-357 was enacted to formalize the National Park Service Volunteers-In-Parks program. Happy 50th anniversary! Please see the park Facebook page for a special post about the anniversary. Thank you for being a part of the Volunteers-In-Parks program. We are grateful for your volunteer service!
A reminder that if your program has been re-activated and you are volunteering, please remember to log your hours. It’s been an odd year for sure, but the park will still be required to submit a volunteer report at the end of the fiscal year. Please help us submit an accurate report by logging your volunteer hours.
Finally, please see the attached summer volunteer newsletter. It is full of great content. A huge thanks to Claire for pulling the VIP Newsletter Summer 2020 together before completing her internship!
Thanks & stay well!
Emily Durán Hewitt

Image – Summer morning view from Lookout Point

C&O Canal Update – July 22

Hello Level Walkers,

Here is the latest update from the park.

Before we get to that – I wanted to let you know that I am now authorized to set up the second group of ten level walkers to reactivate. The first group to reactivate has not had any problems, and they’ve done a great job out there!

If you’ve been in touch with me about reactivating you will hear from me soon.  If you haven’t contacted me but are interested in reactivating in the near future, drop me a note.  Just a reminder – if you haven’t reviewed and acknowledged the training material and level walker position description, submitted a revised Volunteer Service Agreement, and received a message from me that you can restart, you are still inactive per National Park Service policies and not ready to participate as a volunteer. You can certainly visit the park; and many of you have sent me informal notes on your observations from their visits.

Thanks for all you do! – Steve


Dear Volunteers,

Again this week, I have staff updates for you:
Claire Connor, who has been the park’s Assistant Volunteer Coordinator since April 2018, is finishing her internship on July 31. Many of you have likely communicated with Claire, and hopefully all of you have received and enjoyed the beautiful C&O calendars she designed. Claire can be reached at chohvip@gmail.com if you would like to send her well wishes. See attached photo of Claire rocking some personal protective equipment.
Cheyenne Sebold will also complete her internship with the Canal Steward Program on July 31. Although she is finishing with the volunteer office, Cheyenne will continue to work for the park in the maintenance division. Cheyenne can be reached at chohcsp@gmail.com if you would like to send her well wishes. See attached photo of Cheyenne working undercover as a bison.
Shelley Albee is joining the C&O staff as a Park Ranger in Williamsport. Shelley comes to the park from Kingsley Plantation at Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve in Jacksonville, Florida. Her National Park Service career began at the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site. Shelley will be taking on the volunteer coordinator role in Williamsport.
A huge thanks to Claire and Cheyenne for all their work with the volunteer program, and a big welcome to Shelley as she joins the park team!
Emily Durán Hewitt

C&O Canal Update – July 15, 2020

Hello Level Walkers!
Here is another update from the park. I’ve had the pleasure of working with both Linzy and Brendan – and I know many of you have too. Naturally, I am sad to see them move on, but happy for them that they are moving along their career paths.
The first group of reactivated level walkers has been busy!  I’m looking forward to seeing more of you get back out there; many of you asked about that and will hear more from me soon.
Thanks!
Steve

Dear Volunteers,

Last weekend, the C&O Canal Trust held a successful trash clean-up event. Volunteers collected a total of 45 bags of trash from 5 locations in Palisades: Fletchers Cove, Chain Bridge, Carderock, Anglers, and Great Falls. The Canal Trust is holding another trash clean-up event in the middle and west districts of the park on 7/25. For more info and to sign up visit the Canal Pride Days website.
This week I have exciting news to share with you about two of our park staff:
  • Linzy French, Assistant to the Superintendent, has accepted a promotion at Cape Cod National Seashore! Beginning in August, Linzy (who has been with C&O for 6 years) will be the Visual Information Specialist at Cape Cod. If you would like to send congratulations, she can be reached at linzy_french@nps.gov
  • Brendan Wilson, Supervisory Park Ranger in Georgetown, has accepted a promotion at Vicksburg National Military Park! Beginning in August, Brendan (who has been with the park for 4 years) will be the Chief of Interpretation, Education, and Partnerships at Vicksburg. If you would like to send congratulations, he can be reached at brendan_wilson@nps.gov
We at C&O Canal are sad to see such great colleagues go, but we are so excited for Linzy and Brendan and their new opportunities!
Emily H. Hewitt

C&O Canal Update – July 8

Hello Level Walkers,

Here’s the latest park status.

Steve


Dear Volunteers,
This past holiday weekend was a busy one, and park staff are working hard to keep up with the higher than normal visitation. As a reminder, when you are in the park and see problems, issues, or hazards that need immediate attention, the best way to report them is to contact Park Dispatch.
Here are the Dispatch numbers:
Non-emergency: 301-714-2235
Emergency: 866-677-6677
The C&O Canal Trust will be holding volunteer trash clean-up projects this month. For more information on dates & locations and to register, visit the Canal Pride Days webpage.
The footbridge across the Potomac River that connects C&O Canal NHP and Harpers Ferry NHP is now OPEN. For a complete list of conditions, please visit the park website.
Thanks and stay well!
Emily H. Hewitt

C&O Canal Update – July 1

Hello Level Walkers,
Please see the latest update from the park. There is some news that will be welcomed by many of you – limited volunteer activity is resuming.
I have worked with the park to reactivate limited level walking is selected parts of the park. Ten level walkers are returning to duty in the near future.  If you are interested in returning when the next group is authorized, are able to, and are willing to comply with the requirements, or if you want more information, please contact me via email.
Thanks! Steve

Dear Volunteers,
Please enjoy the interesting facts and beautiful photos found in the “All Eyes on Dragonflies” attachment. The article was drafted by Claire & Cheyenne in honor of volunteer Steve Dean’s annual dragonfly walk that had to be canceled due to COVID-19 concerns this year. Hopefully you can get outside and enjoy spotting some beautiful odonates this holiday weekend. All Eyes on Dragonflies

In the coming days and weeks, the park will be reactivating volunteer programs in phases in order to provide support to park operations in an effective and safe manner. This will be a measured process. The health and safety of our volunteers, visitors, staff, & partners is our top priority.  Not all volunteer programs will restart at the same time, individual volunteer comfort levels will be respected, and we ask everyone to be flexible as we continue to follow the most current guidance from the CDC, OMB/OPM, DOI, and other federal, state, and local health authorities to ensure the ability to effectively on-board, train, supervise, and provide volunteers with a safe work environment.

The park recognizes that volunteers are part of our greater workforce, and important to our mission and operations. Therefore, as part of the phased reactivation:

  • A COVID-19 specific Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) has been completed for all volunteer positions.
  • Volunteer Service Agreements (VSA), including accompanying position descriptions, will be updated to reflect any changes to requirements, duties, risks, and operations prior to reactivating a program.
  • Volunteers will be re-oriented and trained to perform their duties with respect to current health and safety measures and corresponding protocols.

Two major concerns facing the park at this time are trash park-wide and river safety in the Great Falls area. Therefore, small scale trash clean-ups, programs that include trash removal, and programs that involve river safety messaging are being reactivated first. These programs include Canal Pride Days trash clean-ups, Level Walkers, Canal Stewards, EMS volunteers, and Billy Goat Trail Stewards.  These programs are being structured to allow for maximizing physical distancing and limiting in-person contact with park staff or access to government facilities.  If any volunteers do not feel comfortable returning to volunteer service at this time, the park will respect individual decisions.

The park will continue to assess operations support and staff management capacity, and will communicate the status of reactivating other volunteer programs in a phased manner. Thank you for your patience as the park continues to implement an adaptive recovery plan. If you have any questions, please contact your park staff program supervisor.

 

Stay well,
Emily H. Hewitt

Image – Widow Skimmer – Level 63

C&O Canal Update – June 24, 2020

Hello Level Walkers,

Here is the latest park update.

Thanks, Steve


Dear Volunteers,
Park staff continue to work hard to bring operations back online. Status as follows:
  • The 5 drive-to campgrounds are now fully open. Campsites must be reserved through http://www.recreation.gov
  • Hiker-biker campsites from Horsepen Branch to Evitts Creek are open.
  • Swains Lock campsites remain closed.
  • Carderock Pavilion is closed and not available for reservations at this time.
  • The digital pass for Great Falls is now available. A 7 day or annual pass for Great Falls can be purchased by clicking HERE.
  • Visit the park website for complete details on current park conditions.
These days canawlers and railroad enthusiasts get along pretty well. The park even participates in the Trails & Rails program on Amtrak when there isn’t a pandemic. As we all know, however, the canal and the railroad were not always friends. This week Claire has put together the attached article that explores the transportation legacy of the C&O Canal and B&O Railroad. Exploring Transportation Legacy Also, if you have any young railroad enthusiasts in your circle, there is a new Railroad Explorer Junior Ranger booklet that they may enjoy.
Stay well!
Emily H. Hewitt

Image – Doe Gully Western Maryland Railway Bridge – Level 53

C&O Canal Update – June 17, 2020

Hello Level Walkers,
I hope this finds you well.
Here is the latest update from the park!
Regards,
Steve

Dear Volunteers,
As of today, the fee booth at Great Falls has reopened. For visitor and staff safety, the park is switching to a policy of credit/debit/contactless payment only, i.e NO CASH. The fee booth can take the NFC (Near Field Communications) technology, i.e. Apple Pay, Google Pay etc. Or if you have a newer credit card the chip will communicate with the reader without having to be inserted. The park will also have a digital pass deploying via Recreation.gov starting tomorrow. This program was formerly called YourPassNow, but has now been folded into Recreation.gov for simplicity.  It will allow you to have a 7 day pass or a CHOH Annual pass on the Recreation.gov app on your phone. Please continue to check the park website for operations updates.
Hopefully you’ve been able to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather we’ve been having. I have noticed a lot of activity around my garden this week. See Cheyenne’s attached article about pollinators to learn what all the buzz is about!  Pollinator Volunteer Engagement Article
As always, if you get out to enjoy our public lands, please remember to recreate responsibly. And stay well!
Emily H. Hewitt

Image – Hummingbird moth on thistle – Level 42