The Hannah Marie, formerly called the Midas, in 2018, before it was removed from the banks of the Snohomish River. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

The Hannah Marie, formerly called the Midas, in 2018, before it was removed from the banks of the Snohomish River. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

Everett couple writes check to clean up the Snohomish River

Phil and Kelly Johnson have donated $50,000 to the county project that removes derelict vessels.

EVERETT — The Snohomish River and its advocates have a new partner in ridding local waters of old junk boats — Phil and Kelly Johnson, of Everett.

In November, the Johnsons read a Daily Herald article about the county’s struggling to haul three derelict vessels from the river, a project that depleted the budget of the county’s Surface Water Management department.

“I’ve been a boater almost all my life,” Phil Johnson said. “To read the paper and see what little funding the county gets from the state, to me, was appalling.”

So he and his wife, Kelly, donated $50,000 to the Northwest Straits Foundation, a funding partner of the Marine Resources Committee, a citizens advisory group that works with the county.

“What that does for us is essentially double our budget for what we have available to remove derelict vessels,” said Elisa Dawson, a senior planner for the county’s Surface Water Management division. “This is great, because I’m hoping this round, we’ll be able to address some of the more expensive ones.”

In total, the state and county are monitoring 24 derelict vessels in and around the Snohomish River estuary. Removing all of them would cost about $1 million.

Each year, the Marine Resources Committee identifies which boats it can remove with its budget.

After the boats are hauled away, the state Department of Natural Resources reimburses the county for most of the costs, creating a revolving removal fund.

Some boats are too expensive for the county to address, or they pose an immediate threat to the water. That’s when the state takes the lead.

In September 2019, the state department paid $400,000 to remove the Midas, a 100-foot World War II-era fishing boat, from the Snohomish River.

One of the most recently discovered boats is the Confusion, a 53-footer stuck near Jetty Island and the 10th Street boat launch.

“They always have great names,” Dawson said.

Going forward, the Marine Resources Committee is working with local law enforcement, the county and the Port of Everett to determine which boats to target, Dawson said.

The removal projects will likely take place in the late summer, she added.

Left unattended, derelict boats leak oil or other fluids, or shed debris, which pollute marine habitat and contaminate wildlife.

Drifting, beached, broken-up or sunken vessels can threaten human safety and navigation and affect aquatic habitats.

“We have to be able to keep the ecosystem healthy,” Kelly Johnson said.

Phil Johnson founded Millstone Coffee in 1981. He sold the company to Procter & Gamble in 1994 and then started Cascade Coffee, one of the top coffee roasting and supply companies in the country.

In 2017, the Providence General Foundation recognized Phil and Kelly with the Budd Gould Award after they donated $1 million to one of the foundation’s campaigns.

“Phil’s whole philosophy has always been to leave the community better than how he found it. I know that he feels very strongly that his success was earned through the efforts of the community of Everett,” Kelly Johnson said.

People can report derelict boats by submitting a report at www.mycoast.org or on the MyCoast app.

Joey Thompson: 425-339-3449; jthompson@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @byjoeythompson.

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