We have an update on both boats that have sunk in Boggy Bayou, courtesy of our friends at the Okaloosa County Board of County Commissioners Coastal Resource Management Team.
The first boat to sink hit the shallow bottom of the Bayou after a storm rolled through last week. At the time – the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Okaloosa County couldn’t locate the boat’s owner.
Well, good news – the government could track down the boat’s owner. Turns out the vessel is insured. Good news for taxpayers. Finding the owner means the government (state or local) will be off the hook for towing this boat away. Thankfully, the boat owner has until June 3rd to submit a plan to remove the vessel.
Should the owner fail to file an acceptable plan, the FWC will remove the boat and charge the owner for it. Should FWC take care of the boat’s removal itself, boaters can expect the bayou to be cleared of the first boat in three to four weeks.
Less good news on the boat #2 front. The boat, which sank over the Memorial Day weekend (pictured), does not have an owner who can be found. The FWC determined the vessel is derelict. According to Florida law, a “‘Derelict vessel’ means any vessel defined in s. 327.02, that is left, stored, or abandoned:
(a) In a wrecked, junked, or substantially dismantled condition upon any public waters of this state.
(b) At any port in this state without the consent of the agency having jurisdiction thereof.
(c) Docked or grounded at or beached upon the property of another without the consent of the owner of the property.”
FWC will have to use taxpayer dollars to remove the second boat. FWC will probably end up removing this boat in the next two or three weeks, according to Public Information Office for Okaloosa County, April Sarver.
Unfortunately, for Florida residents, the process to remove a boat can be somewhat, for lack of a shorter word, byzantine, a maze of rules and regulations to get a boat removed.
Fortunately, though, Okaloosa County has a Coastal Resource team with former members of FWC who know how to navigate the process quickly and efficiently. “We’re lucky to have a coastal resource team that knows how to navigate the boat removal process,” said Okaloosa PIO April Sarver.
The Coastal Resource Management team is funded entirely from tourism tax dollars. The portions of Okaloosa County, including Niceville and Valparaiso, voted to join the tourism development district. Tourism tax dollars allow the county to collect taxes on hotel stays in Niceville and Valparaiso. Almost all of these taxes get paid by non-residents. The government can then use this money to pay for value-added for tourists and locals.
It’s in shallow enough water that you can see the canopy of the center console sticking out above the waterline.
The problem – it is now a navigation hazard for everyone else.
Mid Bay News informed the Okaloosa County Public Information staff of the issue, and they let the Okaloosa coastal resource manager know about the issue.
Okaloosa County has officially contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) about the boat, which says they will get the process started for removal on the boat.
Until then – please take extra care when boating around the northern portion of Boggy Bayou.