Department of the Interior

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Office of the Secretary
CONTACT: Shane Wolfe
September 17, 2004
Secretary Norton Promotes National Public Lands Day
At Historic C&O Canal Site; Announces Fee-Free Day at Public Lands on September 18th

CABIN JOHN, Md. - Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton today rolled up her sleeves and joined improvement and restoration efforts at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, one day in advance of the 11th National Public Lands Day - a day on which recreation fees at public lands will be waived.

Norton, joined by student volunteers from Georgetown University Law Center, worked on projects in and around the historic Lockhouse 8, located on the C&O towpath. The work is part of the Department of the Interior's Take Pride in America® program.

"It's a pleasure to be able to join these dedicated volunteers in this important project to improve this cultural treasure," Norton said. "My hope is that in honor of National Public Lands Day, Americans from all over the country will pay a visit - a fee-free visit - to our public lands Saturday. While they are there, I hope that many of them volunteer to help improve these special places."

In honor of National Public Lands Day, Department of the Interior agencies join the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, in waiving recreation fees on Saturday, September 18. In addition, for the first time, volunteers who work at a National Public Lands Day event at a site managed by one of five federal agencies will receive a coupon good for a fee-free day at any of the agency sites. The coupon will be good for use anytime in the next year. The agencies issuing the fee-free coupons are the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and USDA Forest Service.

Built in 1830 to provide shelter for the Lockkeeper and his family, Lockhouse 8 played a vital role in the operation of the C&O Canal as a primary transportation route along the Potomac River. But after canal operations ended in the early 1900s, the Lockhouse was abandoned for years.

Partnering with the Department of the Interior's National Park Service, the Potomac Conservancy is renovating the Lockhouse into an interpretive and education center. Located halfway between the NPS interpretive centers in Georgetown and Great Falls, Lockhouse 8 sees as many as 250,000 visitors pass its front door annually. The Conservancy intends the Lockhouse 8 Learning Center to provide information about the historic C&O Canal, the Potomac River and its environs and the Potomac Conservancy's conservation efforts.

National Public Lands Day is the nation's largest single-day, hands-on volunteer effort to improve and enhance the public lands Americans enjoy. Last year nearly 80,000 volunteers built trails and bridges, planted trees and plants, and removed trash and invasive plants.

National Public Lands Day is sponsored by the National Environmental Education and Training Foundation in partnership with Take Pride in America®. Through Take Pride in America®, which is part of USA Freedom Corps, the Department of the Interior is committed to promoting awareness about citizen stewardship of public lands and increasing volunteer opportunities for the public. For more information on Take Pride in America, go to For more information, including a list of National Public Lands Day sites, activities, contacts and downloadable photos, go to or call 800-VOL-TEER.



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