For almost 100 years in the 19th and early 20th century, the C&O Canal provided an important transportation route along the Potomac River. Today, almost 1,300 historic structures remain within the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, including many of the lockhouses that controlled the flow of commerce along the approximately 185-mile route. The size of the park, however, and the number of historic resources located within present a maintenance challenge for the Park Service.
Federal funding support for the Park Service has not kept pace with the maintenance needs over the years, and as a result the maintenance backlog across the entire National Park System has grown. Current estimates from the Park Service set the total backlog amount as $11.5 billion with $4.5 billion attributable to the unmet needs of cultural and historic resources alone. In the face of decreased federal funding, this backlog amount continues to grow.
Yet innovative programs and approaches are working to make a dent in the backlog.
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