The point of the story is enunciated in the closing paragraph:
Despite the economic impact, John Paul Woodley, assistant secretary of the army, said that boat harbours serving recreational boaters do not support "high volumes" of commercial traffic that merit higher government funds for maintenance and dredging. "Therefore, the President's budget continues to give priority to those harbours and waterway segments that support high volumes of commercial traffic and significant commercial fishing, subsistence and public transportation benefits," wrote Woodley.
The Corps original (and evidently continuing) mandate was/(is) to provide waterway engineering, maintenance
and management services to support commercial operations and ventures that themselves were/(may be) vital to the local and regional economies and, in the case of the ICW
, defence efforts (during WWII the ICW was the only bulk freight shipping route safe from German U-Boats).
As transportation and shipping
modes have changed to truck and rail, there is less dependence on waterways, hence less commercial traffic, but recreational marine
uses have increased dramatically and have even greater economic impact than did/(does) commercial uses. Given its relative import
, particularly in a struggeling economy, shifting some of the Corp's efforts to waterways and harbors serving the recreational marine
industry--particularly in the Great Lakes and the ICW--has much to recommend it. (Just ask the citizens, store and shop owners of some of the little towns along the ICW that can no longer be reached because of siltation and shoaling absent dredging.) That's the underlying theme.
On the other hand, using federal money and Corps resources to support operations that favor only rich, old, fat-cats with yachts--even though their own expenditures support the employment
of a vast infrastructure of everyday working people--isn't as appealing as, say, "refundable" tax credits to non-taxpayers, and sure won't garner as many votes eh?