A mile-long stretch of towpath at the C&O Canal National Historical Park received a much-needed manicure Thursday, thanks to 80 sixth-graders from Western Heights Middle School.
The students, with the help of 14 parents and four teachers, pruned a portion of the towpath in the park's Big Slackwater area.
They also removed trash and debris from the parking lots and cleaned out grills.
David Tune, C&O Canal volunteer coordinator, said the middle school students have been coming to clean the towpath since 1996.
He said the annual cleanup would have taken weeks for the park staff to handle alone.
"It allows our staff to concentrate on bigger projects like mowing or preventing blowouts," Tune said.
Blowouts occur when a rush in river water causes a break in the towpath, Tune said.
Western Heights teachers said when they return to class, students will learn about the environmental effects of pollution. One year, a few students found a hot water heater along the path, said Heidi Wright, an English and science teacher at the middle school.