Save the C&O Canal from intrusive development!

Above is shown a section of the Capital Crescent Trail near Site A, where a storage facility would be constructed under the High Density Alternative.
    Below is part of the shoreline at Site C that would be blocked by a large boathouse under the High Density
The alternatives are described and illustrated in an NPS newsletter (see also this website's Images and Maps page).   A comment by the Defenders coalition has expressed strong concerns about possible effects on the future of the canal park in Georgtown.  The C&O Canal Association's comment also underlines the need to guard the National Historical Park from inappropriate development.   All individuals and organizations wishing to safeguard the canal park are urged to make their voices heard through the NPS comment form.  


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Impact Statement (EIS) process on this plan, dormant since 2008 in the face of strong public reaction, has been superseded.  Now, the issue is revived in another form by the preliminary High Density Alternative of the boathouse zone Environmental Assessment (EA).

The current 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 preliminary EA proposal may lead to positive plans for boating enhancement that would respect the values of the C&O Canal NHP.  However, its High Density option may permit construction of a major boathouse within the canal park's borders.  A provision for long-term leasing or land exchange suggests that the facility might become an enclave for a private university sports program. Supporters of the park have until March 6 to make their position known.

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.
Public Comment Period on Boathouse Zone Environmental Assessment Is Open Until March 6, 2015

Those who wish to protect the Georgetown section of the C&O Canal National Historical Park and Capital Crescent Trail currently have an opportunity to express their views.  Until Friday, March 6, the National Park Service is accepting public input on preliminary development options for an Environmental Assessment (EA) to implement a non-motorized boathouse zone in Georgetown.  Comments may be submitted through the project website.  NPS will consider the comments while preparing proposals to be presented in a draft Environmental Assessment during the summer of 2015.

The EA presents a range of development options in a zone extending from 34th St. NW to a point about a quarter mile upriver from Key Bridge. About half of this area lies within the C&O Canal National Historical Park.  Although the preliminary alternatives include positive concepts for the C&OCNHP, some options involve substantial construction in the park.  The High Density Alternative includes a large boathouse  -- possibly for private ownership or use -- within the canal park's borders.