I won't argue the cost effectiveness but I can say for sure that DNR does break ice in Back Creek Annapolis in winter. I saw one of the boats go by (I don't remember the name, but it was named a after a man). I was able to get out to go sailing (which I do all year round) through the open channel.
So FACT: there is DNR ice-breaking and FACT: not all recreational boaters have their boats pulled in cold weather and FACT: some of use our boats year round.
I'm not sure breaking ice for me is a good use of tax payer dollars, but that isn't what you were talking about.
Dave, DNR has been breaking relatively thin ice for quite some time, however, their ice breaking activities was not for the recreational boating community or industry--it was strictly for commercial purposes, mainly so commercial watermen could get out to the open waters of the bay and gill-net striped bass (rockfish) and tong for oysters. However, the recreational boating community is being asked to pay for this, which is essentially taxation without representation. We, the recreational boating community and recreational boating industry, are being asked to subsidize the commercial fishing industry in Chesapeake Bay.
And, you are right, not all recreational boats are pulled for the winter. Some stay in the water at marinas where bubbler systems and ice eaters keep the marina ice free. Do you believe DNR is opening those tiny creeks for you to go sailing, or did the guy who ventured out take advantage of the situation created by DNR's ice breaker opening the channel for the commercial watermen? I believe the latter is the case.
Now, lets say that the sailboat becomes stranded out there in the bay's open waters because ill winds and a huge drop in temperature caused the channel to freeze over again. And, if those commercial watermen were safely back at the dock, to you honestly believe DNR would send the ice breaker out to clear a channel back to your marina? I doubt it! I think they would have you anchor your boat, put you onboard their rescue craft and take you to the nearest, open stretch of shore, then send you a massive bill. And, if you didn't pay the bill, the taxpayers would end up bailing you out.
Maybe I'm just a bit cynical, but keep in mind I've been dealing with DNR for nearly 5 decades and believe me they do NOT have a good track record.