Peeved paddlers sue for access to river by Trump golf club

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A plaque honoring Civil War dead at the Trump National Golf Club with the the Potomac River in the background

A local canoeing association filed a lawsuit on Thursday to ensure access to a section of the Potomac River that abuts a Trump golf course where the president plays frequently.

The Canoe Cruisers Association of Greater Washington DC lodged the complaint against the Department of Homeland Security and Coast Guard with a US District Court in Maryland.

The Trump National Golf Club is located on the banks of the Potomac River in Sterling, Virginia, across from two sites popular with canoers and kayakers on the Maryland side of the waterway.

Canoe Cruisers is objecting to a rule imposed last year by the Department of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard declaring a two-mile (3.2-kilometer) stretch of the river a "permanent security zone."

The lawsuit claims the move "revokes the public's legal right to access and enjoy a popular section of the Potomac River whenever President Trump visits Trump National."

According to the complaint, Trump has visited the private club more than three dozen times since taking office in January 2019, most frequently on weekends when recreational paddlers also take to the river.

"It is unconscionable that public access to this important stretch of the Potomac, which serves as a training ground for generations of paddlers, is cast into doubt so the President can play golf at his whim," Canoe Cruisers chairman Barbara Brown said in a statement.

"The Administration needs to listen to the hundreds of river users who opposed this rule, and establish with certainty a reasonable outcome that maintains access to this treasured natural resource while addressing the legitimate security considerations for the President," Brown said.

The suit accuses the Department of Homeland Security and Coast Guard of failing to provide the public with the opportunity to comment before the rule was imposed.

Canoe Cruisers suggested at the time that the half of the river that abuts the Trump golf course could be closed while leaving the Maryland shore side open to paddlers.

Canoe Cruisers was assisted in bringing the suit by Democracy Forward, a non-profit legal group.