The club outside Washington, D.C. violated three sections of the zoning code when it did not obtain a permit before cutting and disposing of a dozen mature trees into the Potomac River, according to Loudon County (Va.) officials. Trump National officials have 30 days to appeal before an initial round of $600 in fines is assessed, with costs rising further if the necessary permits aren’t secured.
The cutting and disposal of a dozen mature trees into the Potomac River nearly two weeks ago at the Trump National Golf Club, Washington, D.C. violated Loudoun County, Va.’s zoning ordinance, the county said, and could cost the organization at least $600, the Washington Post reported.
The downed trees were spotted February 23 by Steven McKone, director of the Calleva River School, as he kayaked the river, according to The Post’s report. Subsequent paddlers and boaters saw about a dozen stumps 14 to 24 inches wide, and large tree trunks in the Potomac.
The removal of the trees from a flood plain along the river requires a permit, which the golf course did not obtain, county officials said in a March 6 news release, and violates three sections of the zoning code, The Post reported.
The county ordered the club to stop all activity in the flood plain until it obtains the necessary permits, The Post reported. Trump National officials, who have 30 days to appeal the violations, did not immediately respond to the Post’s requests for comment.
The initial fine is $200 per violation, The Post reported. That would rise to $500 every 10 days after the appeal period passes, if the club does not secure the necessary permits. Loudoun County officials said they will inspect the property every 10 days.
Phillip Musegaas of the Potomac Riverkeeper Network, who also saw the felled trees and cleared land, told The Post that he was glad Loudoun County is holding the club accountable. About 1,000 people have signed the organization’s petition to protest the tree cutting and dumping.
“We’d like to see the county require them to replant the trees—that seems like a reasonable correction,” Musegaas told The Post.
Trees in a waterway can create dangerous conditions, as currents can pull watercraft into the branches, then trap boaters underwater, The Post reported. In addition, environmental advocates say that trees along riverbanks are among the best ways to protect water quality and aquatic life and prevent erosion.
Officials from Maryland, which controls the river up to the Virginia riverbank, checked the area over the weekend, according to The Post’s report. A spokesman for the Maryland Natural Resources Police division of the Department of Natural Resources said the agency found no hazards at that time.
The Trump Organization purchased the Potomac Falls property—which includes two 18-hole golf courses, a tennis facility and a banquet hall—in 2009, The Post reported. In 2010, the club cut more than 400 trees from its property when it renovated its courses. Nine months later, President Trump told a Washington Post reporter that the tree removal was done to create a better view.