Coast Guard Hedges on River Closure

Coast Guard Hedges on River Closure

Boaters still wary of policy.

Bowing to public pressure, Admiral Paul Zukunft, commander of the U.S. Coast Guard, announced that recreational boaters would be allowed to use the Potomac River when President Donald Trump and other “high government officials” play golf at Trump National Golf Course in Potomac Falls, Va.

Testifying last week before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Zukunft said boaters can use the Maryland side of the river when the president is using the golf course.

“As long as they stay to the Maryland side of the Potomac River, they can pass clearly when the security zone is in effect,” Zukunft said.

Previously the Coast Guard issued a notification establishing a “security zone” on the Potomac stretching about two miles, from Violette’s Lock to Sharpshin Island and covering the width of the river from the Maryland shore to Virginia.

Several small businesses that use the river where it was to be closed and many recreational organizations, along with individual boaters protested the closing of the river.

“We listened and we are making that accommodation to the public,” Zukunft said.

Accommodation is not what Adam Van Grack is looking for. He wants the original ruling of closing the width of the river changed and the changes put in writing.

Van Grack is a kayaker and a lawyer representing Calleva, a non-profit outdoor adventure program which operates a summer camp at Riley’s Lock directly across the river from the Trump golf club.

“The problem is that unless they change the rule, [statements] mean nothing,” Van Grack said.

That thought was repeated by Barbara Brown another paddler and board member of Canoe Cruisers Association, the largest kayak and canoe club in the D.C. area.

“Yes, but they have not put it in writing.” Brown wrote in an email. “The directive is still unchanged.”

Both Van Grack and Brown encourage boaters and organizations using the Potomac near the Trump golf course to register their opinions on the river closing during the comment period which ends Aug. 9.

Comments should be made at mention docket number USCG-2017-0448.