Blocking the Potomac River at Violettes Lock for Trump Golf Course
The U.S. Coast Guard will block access to the Potomac River from the C&O Canal's Violette's Lock access point to the upstream end of the Trump golf course. This may make it impossible for paddlers, including disabled veterans from Team River Runner, and Olympic athletes from the US Whitewater Team, to run the GW Canal/Violette's Lock loop or paddle through the area, even on the Maryland side of the river.
This is a very popular section of the Potomac River and the closure will impact all of us who canoe, kayak or fish in this area. The rapids in this area of the river are used to teach classes by both paddling clubs and commercial paddling schools, as a training area for Olympic whitewater competitors and as a whitewater race venue.
Violettes Lock on the C&O Canal provides access to the old Patowmack Canal (GW Canal) on the Virginia side of the river and to the Seneca Breaks rapids. The remains of the Patowmack Canal, built by George Washington to skirt the rapids, forms a very nice, shady set of rapids that are a favorite of paddlers of all skill levels. To access this area requires one to paddle across the river just above the old C&O Canal Dam #2 at the top of Seneca Breaks. The GW Canal area cannot be accessed by boaters from the Virginia side of the river.
At the very least, we need to move the security zone upriver at least 100 feet to allow paddlers to safely ferry across the river above the dam and enter the GW Canal rapids on the Virginia side of the river. Crossing the river just below the dam to reach the Virginia side is not feasible due to the Seneca Breaks rapids.
We also need a clear zone along the Maryland shore so that paddlers who put in at Rileys Lock on the Maryland shore or Algonkian on the Virginia side, and paddle downriver, can safely pass through the security zone. Stationing USCG patrol boats along the Virginia shore should be sufficient protection for Trump’s golf course. Blocking the full width of the river is not necessary for security.
The Coast Guard has told us they will announce the closure of the river on VHF channel 16, which implies that the river may be closed only when Trump is playing golf, or an event is taking place, but that is not what the regulation says. While sea kayakers who paddle the ocean or bay may carry hand held VHF marine radios, river paddlers do not. A Coast Guard spokesperson on the phone was surprised to find that boaters who paddle canoes, kayaks and SUPs do not carry VHF radios.
The truly ironic thing is; if Trump had not cut down all the trees and brush along the Potomac shoreline, his golf course would be protected by nature.
Canoe Cruisers Association
The Canoe Cruisers Association of Greater Washington DC was founded in 1956. We are a kayak and canoe club whose main purpose is to unite persons interested in paddling the Potomac River and adjacent watersheds. We have been a leader in conservation, education and river safety for many decades.
Detailed information and the USCG notice are posted on the CCA website, http://canoecruisers.org. Comments on this regulation should be submitted to http://www.regulations.gov. Please reference Docket Number USCG–2017–0448.