Eagle Scout project to help rid abandoned boats in Ridgefield waterways


A life scout with Boy Scout Troop 14 in Salmon Creek has used Ridgefield area waterways all his life, and Ridgefield’s Christian Stiever now wants to help rid abandoned boats in Lake River and Bachelor Island for his Eagle Scout project.

Starting in April 2024, Stiever will head out with other volunteers to document the abandoned boats they come across. Before then, he is seeking additional supply donations, as well as volunteers, to make his mission successful.

Stiever decided on his Eagle Scout project while practicing on the Lake River for a paddle boat trip in Utah with his fellow Troop 14 members, when he noticed a lot of abandoned boats along the shore, he said.

“I actually did a little bit more digging, and I found that Washington does actually have a problem with this and they have different agencies to help deter that,” Stiever said.

Stiever, an eighth grader at View Ridge Middle School in Ridgefield, has already approached the Ridgefield Lions Club for additional volunteers and has been working with the Port of Ridgefield, as well.

“Christian, he came and made a very detailed presentation on his proposed scout project, and we were really impressed with the work he put into it,” Port of Ridgefield CEO Randy Mueller said. “He seemed very personally motivated. His family spends a lot of time on the river, and I think they saw the junk, and he felt like he had to do something about it. So, of course we heard his presentation and we want to be supportive, and I think it’s a great idea. I told him, ‘Yeah, we would be happy to work with you.’ ”

Mueller said the port district has struggled to keep the Ridgefield waterfront and around the Lake River clear of derelict boats the last couple of years since the pandemic. With rising water levels this time of year, the boats and rafts tend to cause more harm as they pollute the Lake River.

“Right now, we are entering a period where the river levels are rising. The levels were low during the summer, and so a lot of these things had beached, and with the water rising, now they are floating again and on the move,” Mueller said.

Initially, Stiever wanted to clean up the boats himself, but Mueller said the scouts were less comfortable with that idea because of the liability of handling the boats and other floating junk.

After revising his plan, Stiever will now be searching for the abandoned boats and other river-junk by taking pictures and documenting any VIN number and any registration.

“I’ll compile that data and give it to the port authority, and then the [Port of Ridgefield] said they will work on actually removing it,” Stiever said.

Mueller said the port will use state funds available through the Department of Natural Resources to remove the derelict boats Stiever identifies.

“Once he maps things out, we’ll be able to make a solid push and get this junk removed, which has really been there since COVID,” Mueller said. “We’d like to return the Lake River to a kind of cleaner, more junk-free state than it currently is.”

Mueller said if boating records identify the last known legal owner of a derelict boat, the port will contact them to see if they are willing to come remove it.

“We are very impressed and appreciative of Christian’s efforts in the scouting program,” Mueller said. “We’ve worked with Eagle Scouts in the past, and we are really excited about this one. We think this is a great way to clean up Lake River and improve the water quality and make things less of an eye sore.”

In addition to volunteers, Stiever is seeking donations, such as GPS’s, food and drinks, as well as sun block. To donate or volunteer, email John.Stiever@troop-14.org.