Boaters from the Belle Haven Marina are voicing their concerns about the possible restoration of Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve and its impact on the marina.
Decision time is approaching fast. The National Park Service is taking comments on its website until June 20 about four restoration options for Dyke Marsh.
Concept A means no restoration action would be taken. Concept B proposes “minimum restoration,” and Concept C provides “moderate restoration.” Concept D includes an option of placing fill around the Belle Haven Marina, which boaters say could limit their access.
Although none of the four options mentions doing away with the marina, Capt. Steve Chaconas fears for the marina's future. He said he doesn't particuarly like any of the restoration options but supports Concept A over the others.
“They make no mention of preserving or restoring the marina,” Chaconas said. “These people want to close Belle Haven Marina. Their argument is we’re disturbing the birds. If you go down (to the marina), you will see an osprey’s nest at the boat ramp. … If boaters are interfering with the natural habitat, you can’t tell by those birds right there.”
Belle Haven Marina is an access point to the Potomac River and also houses the Mariner Sailing School. Sailboats, canoes and kayaks are available for rent.
“We have very little access to the Potomac River,” Chaconas said. “Belle Haven is a jewel not only in its location but (in) providing access."
He added, "It’s a great way for people to get out and enjoy the water.”
George Stevens, president of Belle Haven Marina Inc., said he thinks Concept D does not make sense for marina.
“We’re the largest full-time sailing school on the river, and we would hate to see that terminated — filling the marina just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever,” he said.
Stevens said a combination between the propositions presented in Concept C and Concept D would make most sense. Economically, Stevens said, Concept B is most realistic.
Chaconas said he is also concerned about the cost of the different concepts, as the park service hasn't provided price estimates on any of the options.
The advocacy group Friends of Dyke Marsh has endorsed the full restoration of Dyke Marsh and preservation of the Belle Haven Marina. The environment committee of the Mount Vernon Council of Citizens Associations has taken the same position, said Friends of Dyke Marsh President Glenda Booth.
Boaters are not cited as an impact on Dyke Marsh, according to the park service. The U.S. National Geological Survey has found ongoing erosion of the marsh, but dredging was named one of the forefront problems. Before the National Park Service began overseeing Dyke Marsh in 1973, large parts of the marsh were dredged for sand and gravel.
See the newsletter and a comments form here on the National Park Service website.