October 2, 2015
Director Jon Jarvis National Park Service
1849 C Street NW Washington, DC 20240
Dear Director Jarvis:
On behalf of US Sailing, we are writing to our express concern over plans by the National Park Service to close Buzzard Point Marina in Washington, DC. Buzzard Point Marina serves the boaters of Washington, and provides a critical public access point in our nation’s capital to public waterways. US Sailing is the National Governing Body (NGB) for the sport of sailing, and supports a member base of over 45,000 sailors and boaters. We also provide services to well over 2500 local sailing and boating organizations by way of our education and safety programs. In fact, many of our members are tenants and proprietors of businesses on NPS lands, providing critical services to the boating public, and stewardship of our natural resources. There are excellent models around the country of public – private partnerships that provide economic sustainability, preservation of our national natural resources and valuable recreational services and resources to the public. The last thing our country needs is to discourage outdoor activity and awareness, and reducing water access does exactly this. As a NGB, we are a member of the United States Olympic Committee that includes 45 other NGB’s and dozens of Multisport Organizations (Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCA, Boy/Girl Scouts) that collectively support 50+ million youth and adults involved in recreational sports. The biggest collective concern amongst all of these organizations by far is the increasing inactivity of our fellow Americans. Between 2007 and 2014 the number of inactive Americans grew from 70.4 million (25.4%) to 82.7 million (28.3%). This trend has huge implications on our national health, competitiveness and many other key issues. Boating is a unique activity in that it is active, builds awareness and respect for the environment and is enjoyed by families – together.
The closure of Buzzard Point Marina will directly eliminate this opportunity for many Washington residents. We cannot afford that. We should be encouraging access to national parks and points of recreation, not limiting visitor use. We are deeply concerned about the elimination of access to unique recreational space used by the public, particularly at a time when public access to the water continues to disappear and be privatized. We respectfully request that you delay the scheduled closure until a full and transparent assessment of current and future water-oriented recreational needs and challenges is performed, and the public - the owners of our national parks - have an opportunity to understand the issues and collaboratively develop a solution with the NPS. We recognize that the NPS faces challenges in maintaining and operating our natural resources, but simply closing the marina with no engagement with the slip holders or public is not solution that is true to the mission of the NPS. We strongly urge you to reconsider you decision and approach. Thank you for your consideration.
Jack Gierhart Thomas Hubbell Executive Director President of US Sailing