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