Hedrick Belin, the president of the Potomac Conservancy, which monitors conditions along the river, said the penalties may not be enough of a deterrent — especially for the wealthy.
“The more people see this happening to get a great view, they say, ‘Am I willing to pay X or Y?’ ” he said. “Forest and tree cover is so important when it comes to water quality. We have to do everything we can to protect existing forested areas and do what we can to ensure additional planting of trees, especially along land strips right along the edges of rivers and streams.”
Across the Potomac in Loudoun County is Trump National Golf Club, where workers two years ago chopped down more than 400 trees along the river so golfers could better see the water. The rules in Virginia were not as restrictive as those on the Maryland side of the river, and there was no penalty.