SAUSALITO (KPIX) – With the anchor-outs, people living on unmoored boats just off the shores of Sausalito, there’s always been an element of controversy. Now, true to form, it’s the Audubon Society who says the boats are damaging the environment.

California Audubon says anchors and anchor chains are scraping the eel grass off the bottom of Richardson Bay.

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Audubon SF Bay Program Director, Rebecca Schwartz says, they have a photograph that they say proves it.

“So you get these circles around each boat and, it was really shocking how large those circles are,” says Schwartz.

Audubon has completed a study that illustrates how important the eel grass is to the ecosystem.

“There’s been these conversations for decades about what level of damage,’ says Schwartz. “How big of a deal is this? Now we have the irrefutable, undeniable scientific evidence.”

Greg Baker has been around for decades too. He helped start the Richardson Bay Special Anchorage Association.

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“I’m 80 years old and I’ve been on the water for 50,” he says.

Baker is not so sure the problem is as bad as claimed. He says there us to much eel grass.

“It makes the water outside the channel almost unnavigable,” says Baker. “It’ll get sucked up in the engines. It’ll foul your propeller.”

Both sides do agree on one thing. The haphazard anchoring system should be improved to include permanent mooring balls, but that could take even more time for all parties to agree.

“This study was specifically done to help inform the decision makers when the community is looking for solutions to this problem,” says Schwartz.

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Meanwhile, the anchor outs will stay where they are.