At more than 1,700 acres, navigating Rock Creek Park can be difficult for visitors who are unfamiliar with its layout, and even those who are. That could get easier thanks in part to a $225,000 grant from the National Park Service (NPS) announced Monday. The grant, which must be matched with private funding under NPS’s “Centennial Challenge” initiative, would help fund new signage across the entire Rock Creek Park system, covering about 3,000 acres.
“We are thrilled to accept this challenge grant to help diverse communities be better connected to Rock Creek’s unique, urban wilderness and all its recreational, historic, cultural, and educational components,” said Jeanne Braha, the executive director of the nonprofit Rock Creek Conservancy, in a statement. Sample signs have been installed at the following locations, through this Wednesday, for review by regional and local park officials:
- Rock Creek Parkway entrance (near Thompson’s Boat Center at Virginia Avenue NW)
- Georgetown Waterfront Park
- Montrose Park
- Old Stone House
- Meridian Hill Park
Curious about the new signs popping up around @RockCreekNPS? This initiative is part of a $225,000 NPS Centennial Challenge Grant. Rock Creek Conservancy is seeking funds from private partners and donors to match the challenge grant. https://t.co/uDWmjJnbQD #LoveRockCreek pic.twitter.com/998wlkvmg1— RockCreekConservancy (@LoveRockCreek) November 4, 2019
Long-term sign placement is being prioritized along the park’s east side, according to the conservancy. NPS’s Centennial initiative marked the park service’s 100-year anniversary in 2016 and is a ten-year effort “to prepare national parks for another century of conservation, preservation, and public enjoyment, especially for our nation’s youth,” per the organization.
Rock Creek Park is the oldest urban park in the U.S. as well as the third-oldest national park. A federal bill floated earlier this year by Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s congressional delegate, would officially append “national” to the park’s name to help boost its prominence.