Get out the KY you rich boaters--here it comes!
After reading the article link it's apparent that government does what it always does--screws the tax payers. Bob Gaudette, director of Maryland DNR's Boating Service talked about all these wonderful projects. He talked of keeping the waterways ice free during the winter. WHAT! Are you kidding me? The only ice breaking done by DNR is done for commercial fishing interests--not recreational boaters. Recreational boaters have their boats on the hard this time of year and that's where they've been since cold weather set in. But, Gaudette thinks we should pay for this folly.
The article goes on to say "The projects include maintaining thousands of buoys, markers and signs; maintaining 265 public boating channels; keeping channels free of ice in the winter; having Natural Resources Police conduct boating safety checks; removing abandoned boats; and maintaining public boating facilities."
Lets put things in perspective. Those public boating facilities he talks about maintaining are already being funded by a couple of hefty fees. Daily launch fees have skyrocketed at all state parks and county ramps. $7 to $10 per launch is the going rate, and if you look at the parking lot at the ramp of Sandy Point State Park you'll be hard pressed to find a parking spot on busy weekends. This parking lot covers several acres and even the access road is sometimes jammed with parked vehicles and boat trailers. And, be realistic Mr Gaudette--how much does the state spend each year on those concrete slabs that have been silting in for three decades? I've been covering this circuit for nearly 40 years and have yet to see a single ramp being maintained by DNR or a sub contractor. Are these people only working at night?
Removing abandoned boats? Sure, everyone knows a marina with a dozen or more abandoned boats, but DNR doesn't pay for their removal--the marina owner does. How many abandoned boats does DNR remove annually Mr Gaudette? I've only seen a handfull of abandoned boats in my life that were on state or federal properties, and they are all still where they were 30 years ago. Guess DNR must have missed these.
Gaudette says DNR maintains thousands of markers, buoys and signs. To begin with, I seriously doubt that DNR has thousands of buoys, and if they did, what does the maintenance entail? Powerwashing? Same holds true for markers and signs. On the Susquehanna River, when the hurricane washed the 6-MPH buoys downriver to the flats, they stayed there until the following spring when the ice flows carried them down the bay somewhere never to be seen again. They were never replaced. Guess the buoy maintenance crew never got the message.
And finally, DNR police need to conduct safety checks. Yeah--right! In more than 60 years of plying the waters of Chesapeake Bay I've been checked by DNR Police (NRP) three times. And, NRP has NEVER conducted a safety check on any of the dozen or more vessels I've owned. I did get checked twice in a single day, though. This was when I had an 18-foot Starcraft Mariner powered with a 75-HP Johnson Outboard, a nice, fast, center-console boat that had lots of room for fishing. I was fishing for white perch near the mouth of Fairlee Creek and had my 14-year-old daughter and two of her high-school friends with me at the time. It was a hot day in early June, the weather was beautiful, the winds were calm and the fish were not cooperating. The girls were all wearing bikinis about the size of Band-Aids. The girls spent more time swimming than fishing, and of course waving to the guys passing close enough for a peek at the gals. Next thing you know, there's a 17-foot Boston Whaler rolling down the bay that makes an abrupt turn and heads for our boat. The two guys on the boat didn't look much older than the girls, asked if we were catching any fish, to which I responded no! The asked to look in the cooler chest, which we allowed them to do, asked if there were enough PFDs onboard and I pointed to the PFD bag. They never checked anything. However, two hours later, another 17-foot Whaler shows up asking the same questions and ogling the gals. When we got back to the ramp at Gunpowder State Park, the park rangers couldn't do enough to help the ladies out of the boat.
The only other time I saw an NRP officer was at Point Lookout State Park. He asked if I was catching anything, I told him no, and he walked back to his car and left the ramp. The only people that have EVER done a REAL safety inspection of any boat I've owned has been the Coast Guard Auxiliary. They do an outstanding job and don't receive a dime for their efforts, though they do accept donations. They checked the boat from stem to stern, top to bottom, made recommendations, were extremely thorough and very courteous.
Gaudette says DNR maintains 256 public boating channels. I find that absolutely amazing. I've never seen a DNR dredge boat working anywhere in the entire state of Maryland during my entire life--NONE! Of course, they may sub contract the work out to private contractors, but if this is the case, how about providing us with a list of channels DNR has dredged during the past decade Mr Gaudette. Now, I see the Chesapeake's main shipping channel being maintained by the feds, which is an ongoing project that never seems to end. The channels leading to the state park ramps, however, are all pretty much silted in and I have yet to see one being dredged. Take a good look at the ditch leading from the bay into Sandy Point State Park's massive launch facility--it's pretty darned shallow these days. The same holds true for Gunpowder State Park, Susquehanna State Park, Point Lookout State Park, and nearly every state park launch ramp in the state.
Gaudette, like every high-ranking DNR official, claims he can fix all these things if you just give him more money--lots of money. Mr Gaudette should learn to live within his means. I for one intend to fight this piece of legislation with every means at my disposal. I will be contacting every state senator and delegate via email, letters and telephone calls to tell them to defeat this legislation. If they get enough calls, letters and emails the legislation will go down the tubes, which is where it should be--in the crapper!
Thanks to the OP for this information,