Spectators look on as hundreds of amateur and professional paddlers participate in the 2015 General Clinton Canoe Regatta. The 70-mile canoe race—the longest single-day canoe race in North America—is held each year on Memorial Day weekend. Teams begin in Otsego Lake in Cooperstown, New York, with the first finishers reaching Bainbridge, New York, in about eight hours.
First held in 1963, the General Clinton Canoe Regatta started as a way for the Chamber of Commerce in Bainbridge, New York, to promote community and tourism. The event is named after Revolutionary War figure Brigadier General James Clinton. As part of a campaign, General Clinton had his men dam the Susquehanna River—allowing waters in Otsego Lake, the river’s source, to rise. They then destroyed the dam, flooded the river and rode in canoes on the high waters to surprise their adversaries downstream.
Originally just a single, one-day canoe race, the regatta has grown to a four-day spectacle full of live music, a 5K run, carnival rides and fireworks. But the canoe races are still the main event, with close to 1,000 participants in the 2016 regatta.
Image by Will Parson
From the restoration of wetlands and forests to the reduction of urban, suburban and agricultural runoff, 39 environmental projects across the Chesapeake Bay watershed have received close to $11 million in funding through the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund, which is administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and funded primarily by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Twenty-eight projects will be funded through the Small Watershed Grants Program, which supports on-the-ground restoration, habitat conservation and community engagement. Eleven more will be funded by the Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants Program, which finances projects aimed at reducing nutrient and sediment pollution in rivers, streams and the Bay. The 39 projects will collectively leverage an additional $12 million in matching funds, for a total of $23 million to improve the health of the watershed.
Projects will help restore habitat and protect local waterways across the Bay watershed, which spans across parts of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. In Maryland, for instance, Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage will work to restore 15 acres of non-tidal wetlands at Canterbury Farm on the Eastern Shore. In Pennsylvania, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay will use outreach and agricultural “best management practices” to improve drinking water supplies in the Octoraro Creek watershed. And in Virginia and West Virginia, the Potomac Conservancy will use conservation easements to protect 600 acres of forests and fields from development.
Officials and guests announced the awards this morning at the Pennsylvania State University’s Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center in Pennsylvania Furnace, Pennsylvania.
Learn more about the awards.
On August 25th, the National Park Service will be celebrating its 100th anniversary, commemorating a century of stewardship, recreation and land conservation. Looking for a way to celebrate? Across the country, you can make use of “fee-free days”—free admission to all National Park Service sites—from August 25th through 28th. Or you can check out one of the many National Park Service Centennial events happening at parks, battlefields and historic sites across the Chesapeake Bay region, such as the ones listed below.
Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year is the nation’s first water-based national historic trail, a nearly-3,000 mile trail that follows the combined routes of Captain John Smith’s historic voyages on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
On August 25th, both the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail (NHT) and Star-Spangled Banner NHT will be staffing an informational booth at the city dock in downtown Annapolis, Maryland.
On August 27th, a Visitor Contact Station for the Captain John Smith Chesapeake NHT will officially launch at the Zimmerman Center for Heritage in Wrightsville, Pennsylvania. The celebration will include programs and activities for all ages, including a birthday cake.
Nicknamed “America’s front yard,” the National Mall is the most visited national park in the country. The National Mall and Memorial Parks consist of nearly 1,000 acres throughout Washington, D.C., including sites located off of the mall itself.
On August 27th, the National Park Service will be hosting a family fun day at Constitution Gardens, feature live music, storytelling, face painting and other activities. Exhibits will include Lego models of national parks, virtual reality park tours and more.
An 800-acre park located just 15 miles from Washington, D.C., Great Falls Park follows the banks of the Potomac River in Fairfax County, Virginia. The northern boundary of the park is home to the Great Falls—a series of rapids and waterfalls that make the site a popular kayaking and whitewater rafting destination.
On August 27, the park will be celebrating both the Centennial and its own 50th anniversary with a night under the stars, including a performance by the Loudoun Jazz Ensemble and a movie screening.
Managed by the Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture in cooperation with the National Park Service and Montgomery County, Glen Echo Park is a cultural resource full of visual and performing arts, educational offerings and historic buildings.
On August 27, the park will be celebrating one hundred years of the National Park Service with a day full of events: a performance by the U.S. Army Band, National Park Service history lessons, face painting, historical reenactors and more.
For nearly 100 years, the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal provided communities along the Potomac River with coal, lumber and agricultural products. The nearly 185-mile waterway—which extends from Cumberland, Maryland, to Georgetown, Washington, D.C.—served as the primary means of transporting coal from the Allegheny Mountains during its operation from 1831 to 1924. Today, a towpath trail follows the length of the canal, allowing visitors to hike and bike along the scenic route.
On August 25th, the park’s Centennial celebrations will include a birthday card, cake and ice cream. The first 60 participants will receive a free boat ride along the canal, and visitors can hear a program about the legacy of the National Park Service or see a C&O Canal fashion show.
Located where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park includes land in West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland. Its nearly 4,000 acres are make up what Thomas Jefferson once called “perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in nature” after visiting the area in 1783.
On August 25th, Harpers Ferry will be hosting a Founders’ Day Naturalization Ceremony, commemorating the Centennial with a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service naturalization ceremony featuring guest speakers, music and reception.
Located in Adams County, Pennsylvania, this historic site protects and interprets the landscape of the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, the deadliest battle in the American Civil War. The park covers much of the battlefield and several non-battle areas, including Gettysburg National Cemetery.
On August 25th, the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center will be hosting special programs and tours, as well as giving out free cake. And from April through October, the park hosts Living History Weekends, where Civil War reenactors encamp on the Gettysburg battlefield.
This historic battlefield located near Urbana Pike, Maryland, commemorates the site of the Battle of Monocacy, known as “The Battle That Saved Washington.” In summer of 1864, Confederate soldiers were planning to capture Washington, D.C., but federal soldiers along the banks of the Monocacy River were able to delay their approach long enough for Union reinforcements to arrive and defend the capital.
On August 25th, the site will host programs that focus on the history of the National Park Service, and the first 100 visitors will receive a cupcake and a chance to enter to win a Centennial gift package.
Located along the Potomac River near Fort Washington, Maryland, this park—celebrating its 70th anniversary this year—is home to a 200-year-old fort that served for many years as the only defensive fort protecting Washington, D.C.
On August 27th and 28th, the site will host a Centennial event that includes reenactors from the War of 1812 through World War II talking about military life in their respective time periods, as well as cannon firing demonstrations from the Fort Washington Guard.
In February, 1732, George Washington was born on his father’s farm in the Northern Neck of Virginia. Although the original home was destroyed in 1779, a memorial house was built in the early 1930s, where the National Park Service now operates a colonial farm and living historians demonstrate the typical life on an 18th-century plantation.
On August 27th, rangers and volunteers will celebrate the Centennial with a look back at the period when the monument was created—the 1930s—by showcasing the fashion, music and games of the era.
A pileated woodpecker chips away the bark on a fallen tree before probing for insects in Chenango Valley State Park in Broome County, New York.
Growing up to 20 inches in length with a nearly 30 inch wingspan, the pileated woodpecker (Dryocopous pileatus) is one of the largest species of woodpecker. This striking bird with its bright-red crest can be found year-round throughout most of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. But don’t expect to see a pileated woodpecker as a backyard birder: this bird is most likely to be found in mature, old-growth forests full of dead trees and fallen logs (although it can sometimes be found in young forests, as well).
With a characteristic thunk sound, the pileated woodpecker uses its long neck and chisel-like bill to powerfully strike logs, stumps and dead trees, leaving behind a distinctive rectangular-shaped hole. It then uses its spear-like, barbed tongue to feed on ants, termites, beetle larvae and other insects.
Experts believe populations of pileated woodpeckers may have declined in previous centuries, due to the clearing of forests in the eastern United States. But since the mid-20th century, populations have steadily increased as the forests rebounded.
Image by Will Parson