WASHINGTON -— The commandant of the Coast Guard on Tuesday said recreational paddlers can use the Maryland side of the Potomac River when the president or senior administration officials visit Trump National Golf Club, amending a controversial policy that kicked boats off the river whenever the president golfed.

Adm. Paul F. Zukunft announced the surprise policy change while testifying before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee panel.

“As long as they stay to the Maryland side of the Potomac River they can pass clearly when the security zone is in effect,” Zukunft said. The Trump National Golf Club is in Sterling, Virginia, along the river that divides Virginia from Maryland.

In a minute-long exchange with Rep. Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., Zukunft said the Coast Guard is working with the American Canoe Association and other groups to allow access for recreational paddlers. Boaters and paddlers have been infuriated by the shore-to-shore shutdown, which has taken place intermittently since March whenever the president or “high ranking” government officials tee off.

“We listened and we are making that accommodation to the public,” Zukunft said.

DeFazio, the ranking Democrat on the transportation panel, wrote to the Coast Guard last week saying the newly established security zone along roughly two miles of the Potomac that borders the golf course is unfair to those who use the river.

The letter was co-signed by Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee on Coast Guard and maritime transportation.

“I’m pleased that the admiral took our letter and concerns to heart,” DeFazio said in an interview after the hearing.

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