Level Walker Updates – September 19

Hello Level Walkers,

I have a few topics for you:

Invasive Plant Removal at Carderock Recreation Area – The NPS is hosting an invasive plant clean-up at Carderock on Saturday, September 25. For details and sign-up please visit:
National Park Service (NPS) Invasive Plant Management Team (IPMT): Invasive Plant Removal at Carderock Recreation Area (signupgenius.com)

Virtual Volunteer Appreciation Event – The NPS sent the following update on the volunteer appreciation event: Dear Volunteers, 
We have set the date for our Virtual Volunteer Appreciation Event for Thursday, October 21 from 5-7pm. Please RSVP for the event by emailing chohvip@gmail.com so that we can add your name to the guest list and send you the Zoom link. 
Even if you previously RSVP’d for the picnic that was cancelled, please email us a new RSVP for the virtual event. For planning purposes, please RSVP by October 1. 
We will also be sending you details on where to pick up your appreciation items and goodie bag prior to October 21. 
If you have any questions, please reach out to your volunteer program coordinator. 
Thanks, and we hope to “see” you on October 21.  – Emily Durán Hewitt

Level Walker Volunteer Hours – The end of Fiscal Year 2021 is September 30 and is rapidly approaching. I have to submit all FY21 volunteer hours for the Level Walker team to the NPS. I intend to send my report on Sunday, October 3rd. If you have any reports up to and including September 30th, please at get the hours to me by the end of the day on Saturday, October 2nd. You don’t need to do your full report if you need more time, just let me know what your hours were.

Thanks for all you do!

Steve

C&O Canal Volunteer Operations Status Update

Hello Level Walkers,

The latest status update for operations on the C&O Canal follows. This is provided by the Volunteer Manager. If you go out there please be careful.

Thanks,

Steve


Volunteers, 
The park’s Chief Ranger has given the OK to resume volunteer program operations on Friday, September 3rd. However, water levels are still rising so please avoid areas that are prone to flooding such as McMahons, Dam 4, Culvert 82, etc. For a list of current closures and park condition updates, please check the C&O Canal NHP website alerts page – 
https://www.nps.gov/choh/planyourvisit/conditions.htm
All visitors are encouraged to use caution. Even once the rain stops, conditions in the park may still change quickly. Do not attempt to cross washouts or high-water areas. Remain aware of rising water levels in the Potomac River and neighboring streams. High water may impact low areas of the park, and conditions may change unexpectedly. Be aware of possible debris on the towpath, flooding, washouts, and falling trees.

Thank you and stay safe!

Emily Durán Hewitt

Update on C&O Canal Emergency Volunteer Activity Suspension

Hello Level Walkers,

The NPS advises that at the present time volunteer activities are still suspended. Please note the following emergency guidance.

Thanks, Steve


Message from Safety Officer:


Volunteers,

As you know, the watershed for the Potomac River received a lot of rain yesterday and the Potomac River is rapidly rising.   We expect minor flooding in many sections of the park.

Please do not let the sunshine and mild conditions today reduce your situational awareness.  There are many hazards out there.

Many trees are damaged and the ground is soaked.  As a result, some trees may fail suddenly and without warning and many trees may fall over due to root ball heave.

One of the biggest dangers today will be the rapid river rise.  The Potomac River at Paw Paw rose 16 feet in less than 12 hours!!!   As you know, many sections of the towpath will flood on the upstream and downstream portions and it is very easy to become stranded due to rapidly rising waters.  The river is near crest level at Paw Paw and is expected to crest at Little Falls on Friday around 6 PM.

Please avoid using the towpath.

Thank you and be safe.

John G. Adams, CSP

Safety Officer

Important Change to Volunteer Appreciation Events

Hello Level Walkers,

On July 17th, I informed you about the park’s annual volunteer picnics. Due to the evolving situation with COVID-19, the park has decided that the in-person event is not advisable. Per the following note from the C&O Canal Volunteer Manager, the in-person events are canceled.

Thanks,
Steve


Dear Volunteers,

Consistent with CDC recommendations and guidance from both NPS regional leadership and United States Public Health Service, with the rise in cases of COVID-19 and higher community transmission rates we have decided to cancel the in-person volunteer picnics and move the volunteer appreciation event to a virtual platform. Park staff is working on plans for a virtual event, and we will be in touch soon with more details. 
We look forward to safely celebrating your service to the park with our volunteers, staff, and partners.

Thank you, 
Emily Durán Hewitt

C&O Canal Volunteer Office Staff Update

The park has provided a staff update for the program office. As many of you know, the park uses interns to support the efforts of many departments, including the volunteer program. As park volunteers, you may meet or talk to them as you perform your duties. This is a rewarding experience, both for the interns and those of us who work with talented young people as they start their careers. If you meet them, please join me in welcoming them to the C&O Canal!

Thanks, Steve


Community Volunteer Ambassador: Ashley Baker

Ashley Baker is a 2-year Americorps volunteer with an Associates Degree in Human Services, a background in mediation and a passion for Lyme Disease awareness and music. After falling ill in 2019 and becoming bedridden, Ashley was misdiagnosed for months until she was finally diagnosed with stage 3 neurological Lyme disease and co-infections. Ashley is now a pioneer in changing the way tick borne diseases are viewed by educating and engaging with the public through music, support groups, and film. Outside of volunteerism and community work, Ashley is an aspiring artist, entrepreneur and actress who enjoys writing and recording music, performing at shows up and down the east coast, and helping other indie artists develop their skills. She wants to help as many people have access to resources that enhance their individual lives, which in the long run changes families, communities, and eventually the world!

Assistant Volunteer Coordinator: Becky McCarty

Becky started her term as the Assistant Volunteer Coordinator in June 2021 and currently lives in Chambersburg, PA. Since graduating from Millersville University in 2017 with a degree in International Studies, she has traveled to Ireland, France, The Netherlands, and Belgium. Becky is passionate about tourism, current events, and history. In her spare time, she enjoys collecting postcards, reading books, and spending summer days at the lake or the beach. You are welcome to reach out to Becky anytime with questions at chohvip@gmail.com.

Community Volunteer Ambassador: Mariano Guemez

Mariano began his journey with the C&O Canal in June 2021 as a Community Volunteer Ambassador. He is a Latino resident of Washington County, MD and has a passion for the outdoors and wildlife. During his internship with the park, he plans to engage with diverse communities, allowing everyone an opportunity to experience what the park has to offer. It’s a pleasure of his to help others and to be of service for those who just need a helping hand. He is excited to get hands-on with events at the park, learning as much as he can in the process as well as making everyone feel comfortable throughout the park. He loves to hike, camp, bike, fish, and create music.

C&O Canal Volunteer Appreciation Picnics

Hello Level Walkers,

The C&O Canal is resuming their annual Volunteer Appreciation Picnics this year after a year off due to COVID 19. These are excellent opportunities to meet park staff and your fellow volunteers. The announcement from the park volunteer manager, Emily Hewitt, follows. Please contact the park per below for more information or to make reservations. Note – there is not a set alignment of which picnic you should go to related to your level location – pick the location and time that is most convenient for you.

Thanks,
Steve


Dear Volunteers, 


We are excited to announce that we will be hosting Volunteer Appreciation Picnics this year! There will be two locations, one for the east district and one for the west district. Please see details below and RSVP. Thank you!


EAST DISTRICT:

  • NEW Date – Tuesday, September 14
  • Time – 5-7 p.m.
  • Location – Carderock Pavilion
  • RSVP – Email chohvip@gmail.com by August 18th

WEST DISTRICT:

  • NEW Date – Friday, September 17
  • Time – 5-7 p.m.
  • Location – Little Tonoloway Day Use Area in Hancock
  • RSVP – Email chohvip@gmail.com by August 18th

Emily Durán Hewitt

C&O Canal NHP Mask Use Update

Hello Level Walkers,

Here is the latest guidance from the National Park Service on mask use on federal lands.

Thanks, Steve


Dear Volunteers, 


The Department of Interior (DOI) has updated the guidance for mask usage. This update is relevant to park volunteers as well as federal employees. Those who are fully vaccinated (at least 2 weeks past the final dose) are no longer required to wear a mask in federal buildings and on federal lands. See the full guidance in the forwarded email below.


DOI has not provided updated guidance to physical distancing requirements, so please continue to maintain physical distance from those outside your household while volunteering in the park. We will update you on any changes as we receive more information from DOI. 


Please note that even if fully vaccinated you are welcome to continue masking at your own discretion, but it is no longer a requirement for vaccinated individuals. It is the park’s priority to maintain the safety of our volunteers, staff, partners, and visitors. Please let your park staff program supervisor know if you have any questions about this new guidance. 


Thank you and stay well,
Emily Durán Hewitt

Volunteer Program Manager C&O Canal National Historical Park


Colleagues,

Consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s May 13 announcement regarding updated Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People, fully vaccinated federal employees, fully vaccinated onsite contractors, and fully vaccinated visitors to federal buildings and federal lands are no longer required to wear masks. 

For now, this change related to masking is the only change to federal workplace COVID-19 safety guidance – maximum telework and workplace occupancy limits remain in place – but we will continue to update based on public health guidance. 

To clarify what this announcement means for individuals:

  • If you are fully vaccinated (at least 2 weeks past your final dose), you are no longer required to wear a mask.
  • If you are not fully vaccinated (less than 2 weeks past your final dose), please continue to wear a mask consistent with the requirements set forth in the DOI Workplace Safety Plan.

These changes are consistent with Executive Order 13991 on Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask-Wearing, which charged federal agencies to “require compliance with CDC guidelines with respect to wearing masks” and with OMB memorandum M-21-15, which noted in its guidance on face masks that “agencies may provide for exceptions consistent with CDC guidelines.”

The Department will be updating its Workplace Safety Plan and related documents to reflect these changes. If you have any questions, please contact your servicing Human Resources Office.

Rachael S. Taylor

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary-Policy, Management and Budget

Dog Photo Opportunity

Hello Level Walkers!

I know many of you level walk with your canine friends, so I didn’t want to delay getting this request from the park to you.

Please contact Emily Hewitt Emily_Hewitt@nps.gov if you (and your dog) are interested.

Thanks, Steve


Dear Volunteers, 
I am starting a fun little project to celebrate the park’s 50th anniversary. I would like to collect a photo of each milepost with a dog next to it. Some of the photos will be highlighted on social media with a fun fact about the area during this 50th anniversary year. All photos will be posted in an album. 
If you would like to participate, please email me by April 16th and let me know which milepost you would like to claim. Then send me a photo of your dog next to that milepost in the next couple of months. 
For your reference, the following mileposts have already been claimed: 0, 10 ,11, 20, 21, 51, 74, 99, 100, 104, 121, 126, 167, and 184.5
By submitting a photo, you agree to have your dog featured on the park’s social media. 
Please let me know if you have any questions. 
Thanks!

Emily Durán Hewitt, Volunteer Program Manager, C&O Canal National Historical Park

C&O Canal Update – March 24

Hello Level Walkers,

Happy Spring! Here is an update from the C&O Canal NHP Volunteer Manager.

Thanks for your support!

Steve


Dear Volunteers, 


It is wonderful to see the start of spring. If you are out in the park and get some nice photos, please remember to submit them for the 2022 C&O Canal calendar. Photos can be emailed directly to chohvip@gmail.com or shared via the Gmail drive to the same email. 


With the nicer weather, Great Falls Tavern has expanded pop-up table hours to Friday through Sunday, and Williamsport will be operating a pop-up table on Saturdays & Sundays beginning April 3rd. 


Finally, please help spread the word. The park has an immediate opening for volunteer camp host at our Antietam Creek campground. This opportunity is available for the 2021 season. Required schedule is 32 hours/week. R/V pad with hook-ups is provided. More information and an application can be found at this link –  Volunteer Opportunity Detail

Thank you & enjoy the nice weather!

Emily Durán Hewitt