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Agency in charge of removing abandoned boats says it doesn't have enough money

The Oregon State Marine Board has a two-year budget of $150,000. The agency hauls away about 40 sunken boats across Oregon every two years.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The agency in charge of hauling broken-down, toxic boats out of area rivers says it’s trying to make do with the money it has, and it doesn’t plan to ask for more.

The Oregon State Marine Board’s entire two-year budget of $150,000 comes from fees recreation boat owners pay for their title and registration, as well as the marine gas tax. The agency does not get general fund dollars from Salem.

“I think it’s not wholly about more money. We need to kind of prevent them from becoming abandoned and derelict in the first place,” said James Cogle with the Oregon State Marine Board.

The agency hauls up and disposes of about 40 sunken boats across Oregon every two years. Ashley Massey with the marine board said there is a criterion to determine which boats will be removed. That criterion includes navigational hazards, and danger to property and people, Massey said.

RELATED: Broken-down boats abandoned on streets become transient homes

Troy Wood with Washington’s derelict vessel program says it salvages about 100 boats every two years. Washington uses the same funding mechanism as Oregon with title and registration fees, but has a giant budget of $2 million. Washington has more waterways and likely more recreational boats he estimated. 

In 2013, the agencies asked for an extra $4.5 million from the state legislature because Wood said there was a large number of vessels that needed to be removed, and more public agencies recognized the problem and started picking them up at quicker pace and needed to be reimbursed. 

Wood said his Derelict Vessel program is looking for a lawmaker to make the same ask of the legislature again this year for $5 million.

RELATED: Sunken boat lived in by homeless man costs $60K to remove from Columbia River

Meanwhile, in comparison Oregon is woefully behind.

“We're not actively soliciting more funding. We feel it's important to work with the budget we have,” said Massey.

“Figuring out what the best bang for the buck can be with our funds, with partner funds. Timelining it out and really engaging with citizen groups, and people who love the river to take some personal pride and ownership to help with the cleanup effort. 

"What can we do to get the public involved in? How can we work with other public entities to do a more robust mass cleanup together?”

RELATED: Transient boats now populating, sinking in Columbia River

Another issue facing the Oregon State Marine Board is the agency has only held two derelict boat turn-in events over the last four years. Those events allow people to drop off their old, broken boat for cheap and the state will demolish it. Washington accepts boats constantly.

Contact information:

Oregon State Marine Board
503-378-8587
Email: marine.board@oregon.gov
Website

Oregon Dept. of State Lands
503-986-5200
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