Agreement between town and Park Service doesn’t mean ramp work will start right away, says federal official

by Geoff Fox

The Town of Hancock and National Park Service recently signed a Cooperative Management Agreement that would allow the town to move closer to a proposed boat ramp improvement project along the Potomac River.

Hancock’s Potomac boatramp is slated for improvements by the town and National Park Service.

Christina Hanson, Chief of Interpretation, Education, and Volunteers for the C&O National Historical Park, said the National Park Service is supportive of the boat ramp improvement project the Town of Hancock has proposed, but the legally required compliance process for the project has not been completed and work on the boat ramp cannot begin immediately.

In an email to The Hancock News, Hanson said the ramp is on federal property, so permission to move forward on the ramp improvements would come through a Special Use Permit (SUP) issued by the Park Service.

The Special Use Permit would be issued only after the Park Service reviews and approves the designs under federal regulations and requirements.

“This NPS environmental compliance is in addition to any permits that would be required by other state and federal regulatory agencies on this project,” Hanson said.

The Cooperative Management Agreement outlines how the Park Service and Town of Hancock would cooperate to maintain areas owned by the National Park Service in the area of Hancock.

The document, Hanson said, generally describes how the two entities would jointly manage a few areas in Hancock like the boat ramp, Bowles House, and some managed landscapes.

“We are very pleased to have the finalized agreement,” Hanson said.

She noted the length of the approval process “can take some time as there are a lot of details for all parties to review” to make sure they are working to protect and make accessible the cultural, natural, and historical heritage in the park.

Under the Cooperative Management Agreement, both the Park Service and Town of Hancock would jointly maintain the boat ramp.

“It does not give permission for the Town to begin any work on the boat ramp,” Hanson said.

The federal park agency looks forward to continuing to work with the town and is ready to advise on the required compliance and permitting work for aspects of the project, she added.