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Officials hope to keep abandoned vessels out of Snohomish River

The DNR has documented 156 abandoned/derelict vessels currently statewide, and has removed 867 since 2002.

EVERETT, Wash. — Officials are trying to solve an ongoing issue in the Snohomish River – getting rid of abandoned boats.

Two craft are currently stuck there now near Everett.

The first, the Midas, was seized by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which is working on a contract to have it removed.

A second craft, a half-submerged sailboat embedded in a mud flat, turned up this week as well.

These craft create several hazards, said Joe Smillie with the DNR.

“Derelict vessels endanger public safety by blocking navigation channels,” he said. “They also threaten the health of our waterways by introducing toxins and scouring sea floor or riverbed habitat that is vital for young salmon, herring eggs, etc.”

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The DNR identified the owner of the Midas, but declined to release the name pending possible litigation to cover removal costs. It has not found the owner of the second craft.

Kathleen Pozarycki, a senior planner with Snohomish County Public Works – Surface Water Management, said abandoned and derelict vessels are a chronic issue in the area.

“Because the Snohomish River is a large estuary with a lot of different tributaries, and sloughs and channels, it’s been a popular place for people to abandon boats,” she said.

It’s why the county is asking people to report problem vessels using MyCoast.org, or the MyCoast app. Geotags will help them track the location and condition of craft.

She also asked owners to consider using the DNR’s Vessel Turn-In program before abandoning a vessel.

“It’s a lot less expensive to have it recycled and hauled out before it’s abandoned and sunk,” she said. “Once it’s sunk, there’s usually holes in the vessel, environmental cleanup involved, you might have to hire divers to go and refloat the boat, patch the boat.”

The Midas will be the eighth vessel removed from the Snohomish River since 2015, Smillie said. The DNR has documented 156 abandoned/derelict vessels currently statewide, and has removed 867 since 2002.

Pozarycki said she expects more to appear and that will eat up time and resources to assess and respond.

“It’s a problem that I don’t think we’re quite out ahead of,” she said. “Boats are being abandoned faster than we have resources to remove them on a state level.”

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