Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Last week, the open water swimming community was shocked and saddened with the plans of the U.S. federal government and commercial interests to move the ferry service to Alcatraz Island next door to the South End Rowing Club at Ft Mason in San Francisco Bay’s Aquatic Park.

Campaigns were quickly organized, opposing letters of support were written, and legal briefs were prepared in response.

The National Park Service wants regular departures of the ferries from Ft. Mason to Alcatraz to begin at 8:45 am.

Bill Wygant, President of the South End Rowing Club, describes the very real possibility of the virtual destruction of one of the world’s most well-used and renownede open water training grounds. “As proposed, the ferry’s path of travel would cut across many of the open water swimming courses that are used by local and visiting swimmers. The ferry would operate with a frequency that would severely limit our ability to use the bay as we do now. We feel that this would have a very negative impact on the sport of open water swimming due to the number of people that train for marathon swims here in the San Francisco Bay.

State legislators Mark Stone, an English Channel swimmer, David Chiu and Phil Ting are engaged on the issue. City Supervisor Mark Farrell has introduced city legislation to try and award the ferry service contract to the city and not the National Park Service (NPS). The issue has also been on radio and TV.

We met with the NPS yesterday. On the surface, it seems like the ferry service will stay on the east edge of town where it is now.

The Dolphin Club has decided to just write letters rather than join our attorneys in drafting cogent objection to the NPS Environmental Impact Statement. Our objections must be couched in a governmental language called NEPA in order to address our concerns.

The community is coming forward with a strong, coordinated, and unified action, but it still feels like we are 4 miles off the coast of France pulling to make landfall.”

A link to the comment page for the Alcatraz Ferry Embarkation Draft Environmental Information Summary is here. Additionally, Senator Diane Feinstein is involved and wants to hear from interested parties here.

For more background on this issue, visit here.

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