Save the C&O Canal from intrusive development!
This photo shows a section of the Capital Crescent Trail in the part of C&O Canal National Historical Park that is within the boathouse zone study area.  (View more
Public Meeting on Boathouse Zone Environmental Assessment Set for Wed., Feb. 4, 2015

The National Park Service has announced a public meeting on the scope of an Environmental Assessment to implement a non-motorized boathouse zone in Georgetown.  The study area extends from 34th St. NW to a point about a quarter mile upriver from Key Bridge.  The proposal includes alternatives that would entail substantial construction within the C&O Canal National Historical Park. The alternatives are described and illustrated in an NPS newsletter (pdf format).  NPS will discuss the proposal at the meeting, which will take place from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Wed., Feb. 4, 2015, at the Palisades Public Library, 4901 V St. NW in Washington DC. 20007.  Public comments may be expressed at the meeting and will be accepted in writing until Feb. 19 by mail or through the project website.  For the full text of the NPS email announcement, see article.


The Threat of an Intrusive Boathouse:  Two of your favorite trails remain endangered by private development.  Georgetown University has long wished to build a massive boathouse at the gateway to the natural areas of the C&O Canal National Historical Park's towpath and to the Capital Crescent Trail. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process on this plan has been dormant since 2008 in the face of strong public reaction.  Now, the issue is revived in another form by the boathouse zone Environmental Assessment alternatives that will be introduced at the Feb. 4 scoping meeting.

The current Environmental Assessment (EA) process is a follow up to the Georgetown Boathouse Zone Feasibility Study that the National Park Service made final in September 2013 (see overview for a description of the study and for links to public comments made on it).  Like the study, the EA proposal may lead to positive plans for boating enhancement that would respect the values of the C&O Canal NHP.  However, the High Density option for the EA may permit construction of a major facility for a private academic sports program within the canal park's borders.  Supporters of the park have until Feb. 19 to express their views.

Potomac River Tunnel
:  Another planning process under way also has the potential to affect the C&O Canal NHP in Georgetown.  DC Water plans a large tunnel to store contaminated runoff during periods of heavy rain.  The tunnel will run beneath the Georgetown waterfront, including the boathouse feasibility study zone, and farther downstream.  Depending on its size and design, the tunnel may have a major effect on the canal park.  NPS closed the period for public scoping comments on the project's environmental study on September 2, 2014.  A public meeting on alternatives is tentatively scheduled for winter 2014-15, with a draft EIS to be published in spring 2015: see article.

Continuing Need for Concern
:  The Defenders of Potomac River Parkland coalition is determined to prevent outcomes harmful to the C&O Canal NHP.  We urge all supporters of the canal park to stay informed on these issues and be prepared to take action.

An intrusive private boathouse at a location inside the C&O Canal National Historical Park is not in the public interest. If approved, such a building could destroy trees, wildlife habitat, wetlands, and natural flood barriers, besides setting a precedent for private development in other areas of the park. A popular entrance to the canal park and the Capital Crescent Trail, within three historic areas, would be impacted by construction and by the need for maintenance access.  Along the trail, bikers, hikers, and baby strollers would tangle with increased traffic, including motorized vehicles.  A large boathouse would downgrade the views of the river shoreline from the C&O Canal Towpath, the Key Bridge, and from Virginia.  Appropriate sites for construction of ample boating facilities exist on degraded land outside of the National Historical Park.


NOTE:  Stay in touch through the Defenders' Facebook page.