Mule Paddock Shed - Great Falls
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal NHP provides a glimpse into the past for visitors with demonstrations/operations of canal boats. These boats were historically propelled along the canal with mules. Today, the park staff uses mules in their boat demonstrations.
The mules for the canal boat operation are housed at Great Falls, Maryland. Currently there is a barn and paddock. The paddock, however, does not contain an animal shelter and the mules must be taken into the barn by handlers.
The project will install a prefabricated run-in shed in the mule paddock to allow mules to have shelter during inclement weather. Currently the mules have no shelter except shade trees while outside. A run-in shed will allow them to choose shelter whenever they want, independent of staff being available to lead them to the barn. In checking with the Montgomery County extension service, they consider the current barn a shelter that meets their requirements. However, to allow the mules to remain in the barn all night would require them to be locked in their stalls. The stalls are small and could lead the mules to becoming cast ( get down and can't get back up again) which could lead to health problems. They also would be trapped in the barn if it were to catch on fire. A run-in shed would be much safer for the mules during evening hours when no park personnel are around. The mules are housed at Great Falls from March through November, with winter quarters off of park property.
The proposed shed would be placed on the flat ground of the front paddock, up slope of existing barn. The shed would have no below grade foundation components. The ground in this area is all fill dirt brought in in 1997 and 1998 and no historic resources would be disturbed. Some fence lines will need to be temporarily removed to accommodate the placement of the structure. The shelter must be placed where it is flat and will not flood. The shed would have a tack room for miscellaneous supplies and equipment used by the handlers.
The project has been reviewed for impacts to natural and cultural resources by the park's Interdisciplinary Team. The project does not pose any serious or long-term effects to the environment, historical, cultural, archeological, or visual resources. It meets Categorical Exclusion #C.18 - Installation of fencing enclosures, exclosures, or boundary fencing posing no effect on wildlife migrations.
For further information about this project, please contact Bill Justice, Chief of Interpretation, at 1850 Dual Highway, Suite 100, Hagerstown, MD 21740.