SALEM, OR -- The Department of State Lands plans to ask the Governor for stable funding to address the problem of abandoned and derelict boats on Oregon’s waterways. The DSL's Ali Ryan Hansen says the agency’s budget comes from the Common School Fund, which has spent $13 million over the last five years to remove these hazards - taking money needed for Oregon schools. She says $40 million from the state's general fund would pay to create a program for two missions, "One: removing abandoned and derelict vessels currently on Oregon waterways. And two: supporting the Department of State Lands’ ongoing work with other partners to identify what’s needed for Oregon to have an actual program to keep more boats from getting onto waterways and creating hazards."
Ryan Hansen tells KBND News abandoned and derelict boats pose a big problem in Oregon, "There are 19 known large commercial vessels of concern and hundreds of recreational vessels."
For example, the DSL is working to remove a 1920s-era ferryboat that’s sinking in Astoria. She says it’s an environmental hazard and public safety concern. But because of its condition, clean-up is complicated, "Crush the vessel in place, pull it from the water and set it on a barge, with some barriers in place to catch the debris, and then haul it away. But, it’s expensive. The initial price tag is over a million dollars."
Ryan Hansen says developing the needed long-term program will take time. The $40 million needs to be included in the Governor's 2023 budget request. But, she points out, the election could lead to a shift in state priorities. If it's included in the Governor's budget, it would still need to be approved by the Legislature in the next session.