Coast Guard Confirms Changes to Accommodate the Public in New Security Plan on Potomac River
Washington, D.C. –Today, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation John Garamendi (D-CA) applauded a decision made by Admiral Paul F. Zukunft, Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, to accommodate the public on a portion of the Potomac River adjacent to President Trump’s Virginia golf course. Previously, the Coast Guard had announced it would close off public access to a two-mile stretch of river when President Trump or “high-ranking officials” chose to play golf at the Trump National Golf Course.
Admiral Zukunft confirmed changes to an interim final rule in an exchange with DeFazio during a hearing in the Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation today.
“I applaud Admiral Zukunft for listening to our concerns, and the concerns of hundreds of members of the public who spoke out against the proposal to close the Potomac River to the public when President Trump and ‘high-ranking officials’ decide to go golfing. As we said in our letter, the Potomac River is a shared resource, held for public use and for economic benefit. Kids, veterans, and other kayakers, boaters, jet skiers, and anglers shouldn’t be denied access to this resource, and I am happy that the Coast Guard will change the interim rule to maintain public access,” said DeFazio.
“President Trump’s frequent recreation at his golf resorts shouldn’t prevent the public from enjoying their own recreation on the Potomac River. I appreciate the efforts of Admiral Zukunft and the Coast Guard to preserve access to this valuable recreational and economic resource,” said Garamendi.
TRANSCRIPT OF EXCHANGE [video here]
DeFazio: On the issue of the security on the Potomac, have there been or could there be discussions with the Secret Service regarding something less than a bank to bank, total closure over a couple of mile section of the river?
Admiral Zukunft: I happened to fly over that very same stretch of river late yesterday afternoon, over the golf course. As you mention, there is no foliage so it is clearly exposed from the riverfront up to the clubhouse. We are working with the three canoe groups, the kayak groups, to allow them passage on the Maryland side of the Potomac River, and then once you get beyond that you enter class one rapids, which you would not take an inner tube down. So, we are looking at striking a balance between the two. So as you have brought up, and Ranking Member Garamendi as well, you have elevated this issue. We listened and we are making that accommodation to the public.
DeFazio: Ok, for just the organized groups or would that include individual canoeists?
Admiral Zukunft: We met with the American Canoe Association and the groups that haul out there. As long as they stay to the Maryland side of the Potomac River, they can pass clearly when the security zone is in effect.
DeFazio: Ok, I hadn’t seen that notice or that change in the notice so that is welcomed news. And would that accommodate the kids in the camp too?
Admiral Zukunft: It would.
DeFazio: Is that a final disposition because you had a pending rule?
Admiral Zukunft: I read your letter, and rather than read it, I had to see it. And meeting with our staff, we can make an accommodation here.