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Boaters appear to be following US Open marine buffer

Boats crowded the edge of the 1,000-yard marine buffer zone on Puget Sound near the Chambers Bay golf course Saturday as marine units from Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and the Coast Guard patrolled.

Sheri Badger, spokeswoman for Pierce County emergency management and the U.S. Open joint operations center, said some people unknowingly ventured into prohibited waters.

“They either didn’t know there was a buffer zone or didn’t know where the buffer zone started,” she said.

The violations haven’t been egregious so far, Badger said.

If repeat offenders become a problem, it will cost them.

Badger said breaking the buffer multiple times may result in a felony charge and a fine of up to $40,000.

A group of activists has vowed to use boats to protest oil trains Sunday at noon. Badger said the enforcement of the marine buffer at that time will remain the same.

“People have their First Amendment right to free speech as long as it’s outside that buffer zone,” she said.

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