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BoatUS alarmed by Hudson River barge proposal

New York Harbor commercial marine interests have asked the Coast Guard to consider 10 commercial vessel anchorages on the Hudson River from Yonkers to Kingston, N.Y.

If approved, the anchorages, totaling more than 2,400 acres, would allow for storage of as many as 43 articulated barges carrying Bakken oil between Albany and New York Harbor.

BoatUS is encouraging Hudson River boaters to let their voices be heard on the proposal by submitting comments to the Coast Guard before Sept. 7.

“We believe in a strong marine transportation system and recognize our country’s energy needs are important,” BoatUS government affairs manager David Kennedy said in a statement. “However, we have concerns about the size and scope of the proposal that would site anchorages on waters heavily trafficked by recreational boaters, as well as reduce the width and in some cases occupy the navigable channel for all vessels.”

Nine of the 10 anchorages are proposed to be for long-term use, alarming environmental groups, as well as BoatUS.

“We are concerned they may unduly restrict recreational boaters’ freedom to navigate,” Kennedy added. There are 62 recreational boat marinas and community boat clubs and 13 recreational boat launch ramps that line the river from Yonkers to Kingston.

In January the Maritime Association of the Port of New York/New Jersey, Tug and Barge Committee wrote to Coast Guard First District Cmdr. RADM Linda Fagan:

“For several years the United States of America has developed as a major energy-producing nation and the great port of Albany as a leading export port for Jones Act trade of American Bakken crude oil and ethanol. Trade will increase on the Hudson River significantly over the next few years with the lifting of the ban on American crude exports for foreign trade, and federally designated anchorages are key to supporting trade.”

The Maritime Association proposal and maps of the proposed anchorages can be found here.

For safety reasons, recreational boaters routinely avoid transiting active commercial anchorages.

The proposed “Roseton Anchorage” would establish three 1,700-foot swing circles 3,400 feet in diameter immediately adjacent to the 135-year-old Chelsea Yacht Club and its mooring field, which harbors more than 100 boats.

“This is simply too close for comfort and could essentially place a steel wall between the boaters and the river,” Kennedy said.