Programmatic Categorical Exclusion - Desiltation of Restored Watered Sections
The National Park Service (NPS), Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, manages the historic remains of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. This canal system connected Georgetown, Washington D.C. with Cumberland, Maryland. The canal was in operation for approximately 100 years, ending in 1924. The canal was built on the Maryland shoreline of the Potomac River and was used to transport crops, coal, and other goods via canal boat. While time and nature have impacted some portions of the historic canal, other sections of the canal have been restored by the NPS to operating specifications. This includes restoration of watered sections. These restored watered sections provide the park visitor with an opportunity to understand how the canal operated, including two staffed canal boat rides that transport visitors through a "lock." The restored watered sections also provide visitors recreational opportunities to fish and boat (non-motorized).
Over time, these restored watered sections of the canal require maintenance to perform to proper flow and function. Part of this maintenance is to remove siltation deposits that occur naturally. Historically, the canal managers maintained a canal operational depth of 4-6 feet. Siltation, within rewatered sections, occurs from suspended fines that are carried into the canal from incoming water sources and from periodic flood events. Over time, these fines settle and deposits form, reducing the depth and flow within the canal.
Desilting work involves the removal of extent silt only, leaving the canal prism at its historic dimensions. In order to facilitate desilting operations, a programmatic categorical exclusion has been crafted to specify the desilting activity in detail. The Programmatic Categorical Exclusion is based on Director's Order #12 Categorical Exclusion #3.4 C (4) – "Routine maintenance and repairs to a cultural resources sites, structures, utilities and grounds under an approved Historic Structures Preservation Guide or Cyclic Maintenance Guide; or if the action would not adversely affect the cultural resource." The programmatic categorical exclusion will list the short-term, low impact activities that can move forward without further compliance review and approval.
In accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act, Section 106 Programmatic Agreement of 2008, desilting work, as outlined within the draft programmatic categorical exclusion document, will not have an adverse effect on historic structures and meets Streamlined Activity No. 1 "Preservation Maintenance and Repair of Historic Properties."
Any proposed events/activities that would not meet the Programmatic Categorical Exclusion/Streamlined Activity will be required to be submitted for compliance review and will be processed by the park's Interdisciplinary Team for potential impacts to park resources.
For further information regarding this project, please contact the Chief of Preservation and Project Management, Chesapeake and Ohio Canal NHP, 1850 Dual Highway, Suite 100, Hagerstown, MD 21740.