The Potomac now has a “River Navigator” to help communities along the waterway make connections with federal agencies that can help them carry out local visions for economically and environmentally sustainable development.

Last year, President Clinton named the Potomac as one of 14 American Heritage Rivers, a designation that brings no money, but does entitle each river to a federal employee who helps communities identify federal grants and programs that can help them fight pollution, build greenways and protect watersheds.

In March, Friends of the Potomac — a coalition of nearly 200 local organizations, businesses, governments and individuals who nominated the Potomac for American Heritage River designation — announced that Glenn Eugster, a National Park Service employee from Alexandria, VA, was their choice as River Navigator.

So far, the Potomac is the only American Heritage River to have appointed a navigator.

“I look forward to working cooperatively with local governments, community organizations and private landowners, ‘helping them to help themselves’ carry out community conservation, revitalization and restoration efforts,” Eugster said.

He will help communities and organizations tap federal sources that can help with such things as nutrient reduction, living resource restoration, heritage-based tourism, environmental education, recreation trails and community revitalization.

Trained as a landscape architect and ecological planner, Eugster has more than 20 years of experience working for local governments, the Park Service, the EPA and its Chesapeake Bay Program Office. While with the Bay Program, he was in charge of developing its 1996 Chesapeake Bay Program Land, Growth and Stewardship Policy.

He also worked on the design and implementation of the 1994 Potomac River Watershed Visions Project, as well as many Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program projects, and EPA community grant programs. He has been involved in local initiatives in Wheeling, WV; Southern Maryland; Adams and Bedford counties, PA; and Loudoun County, VA.

As River Navigator, Eugster will use that expertise to bridge the gap between federal agencies and local groups. His office is at the Park Service’s National Capital Regional Office in Washington, D.C.’s Potomac Park.

American Heritage Rivers are expected to serve as models for innovative, economically successful and ecologically sustainable approaches to river conservation, restoration and revitalization.

The Potomac was one of two rivers designated in the Bay watershed. The other was the Upper Susquehanna between Sunbury and Pittston, and the Lackawanna River which flows into it.

A blue-ribbon panel selected the rivers from 126 applications for rivers in 46 states.