Luckily, the ice had set up enough for me to walk out on and pull out the boat.
It should be pretty obvious to most civic minded individuals that boats that don't belong to them on a property that isn't theirs should not be used. However, just to make it clear for everyone:
The boats are for class use or for approved research on Third Sister Lake.
The boats are not for recreational use by the public.
That is all.
UPDATE (Feb 13, 2013): An e-mail was sent to me to explain how the boat ended up in the ice:
I am responsible for that. I was walking in the Forest (on a Sunday, I think) and when I got down to the dock I saw that two dogs had fallen through the ice about 200 feet west of the dock and about 75 feet from shore. There was a deer about 100 feet from the other side of the lake that was struggling in the ice to get to shore. I suspect the dogs (looked like two German shepherds) had gone out on the ice in pursuit of the deer and broken through. I tried the ice but it wouldn't hold my weight and I was alone so I didn't want to run the risk of falling through myself. I tried to find a branch long enough to reach the dogs but couldn't find one long enough. I called my wife and had her call the Humane Society to see if they could help out. Then I put the rowboat in, hoping I could scoot it along on top of the ice to get to the dogs (using a pole and snow shovel I got from your porch). That proved impossible and the pole I was using to move it broke. I used the shovel to get close enough to shore to get out. But I couldn't retrieve the boat so I left it.This explains what happened. However, I wonder if what this person saw was two coyotes. At a distance, coyotes and German Shepherds have a passing resemblance, sharing similar coloring and - in the winter - a thick coat. Also, in previous winters, I have seen coyotes running across the ice. That, plus the lack of any mention of dog owners nearby, makes me think that it was coyotes that went in after a deer.
The dogs drowned before the Humane Society got there. I called (or emailed, I forget which) the UM Security people to tell them that the boat was in the ice and why it was there. I wasn't sure who else to get hold of.
I really do hope that no dog owner lost their dogs in such a tragedy. However, if you are a dog owner, it is your responsibility to keep your dogs on leash and safe (for themselves and to others).
Of course, if you do see something wrong in Saginaw Forest, and you cannot find the caretaker (because I'm not always on-property) please do get in touch with the UM Department of Public Safety at (734) 763-1131.