Park Service Approves C&O Canal Plan

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A wicket on the restored Lock 3 of the C&O Canal was ceremonially opened last fall. Photo by Richard Selden.

The plan developed by Georgetown Heritage, the nonprofit partner of Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, to “restore, revitalize and reimagine” the canal’s first mile, located in Georgetown, was approved by the National Park Service.

A Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Georgetown Canal Plan Environmental Assessment (EA) was signed on Feb. 20 by Lisa Mendelson-Ielmini, acting director of the National Capital Area within the Park Service’s Region 1.

“This is a very significant milestone for the National Park Service and the Georgetown Canal Plan, and all of us at Georgetown Heritage can’t thank the project’s stakeholders and supporters enough for their help to get it to this point,” said Jeffrey L. Nichols, executive director of Georgetown Heritage. “We can’t wait to get going on the next phase of the project.”

Design concepts in the approved plan, focusing on infrastructure repair and preservation, safety and the visitor experience, include: towpath stabilization, rehabilitation and selective widening where appropriate; improved canal and towpath access and accessibility; increased interpretive and educational opportunities; and more welcoming and usable open spaces.

Implementation will take place in phases as funding is secured. Advance notice will be given of construction activities resulting in temporary closures or detours, according to the Park Service.

For more information about the plan, which was prepared with support from D.C. government and the Georgetown Business Improvement District, visit georgetownheritage.org. To read the FONSI and EA, visit parkplanning.nps.gov/georgetowncanalplan.

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