U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grants funds to California for recreational boating

STATEWIDE — A tiny fraction of nearly $14 million in federal funding will be directed to California to help pay for two recreational boating projects within the state, it was announced last month at the Palm Beach International Boat Show.

California will receive less than 1 percent of grant funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to assist boaters through the Boating Infrastructure Grant, or BIG, program.

The Fish and Wildlife Service will grant the state’s Division of Boating and Waterways (Cal Boating) $110,562 to provide financial assistance for a public dock project at Newport Beach and a channel marker project at Port San Luis near San Luis Obispo.

Newport Beach seeks to build a 96-foot public dock at the harbor’s Turning Basin. Meanwhile the Port San Luis Harbor District will use the federal funding to add two solar-lighted channel markers to brighten up the navigational area for visitors to safely access a public tie-up.

“Our recreational boats and boat docks share the water with fish and wildlife species critical to our ecology and economy,” Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said in a statement. “In the same way good hunting practices and land stewardship benefit terrestrial wildlife, boating facilities can benefit aquatic species by keeping waterways clean and driving revenues to state wildlife agencies through fishing that can be placed back into conservation. It’s a cycle of success. Not only do these grants help to create safe and improved recreational boating facilities, and provide improved access to boating and fishing opportunities.”

Specific details of the public dock project in Newport Beach, also known as Central Avenue Public Dock, are still being hashed out by the city’s Harbor Commission but the new boating venue will be located by the Elks Lodge and near the Newport Boulevard Bridge.

The dock is expected to be 96 feet long by 10 feet wide, with 22 feet of pier reserved for end-ties. Fishing might be prohibited at the new pier.

In all 32 states, commonwealths and territories received funding from the Fish and Wildlife Service to promote recreational boating projects through the BIG program.

Funds are generally used to construct, renovate and maintain marinas and similar aquatic venues. Funding is also used to “produce and distribute information and educational materials about the program and recreational boating,” according to Fish and Wildlife Service staff.

The Fish and Wildlife Service draws funding for its BIG programs from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund.

States received up to $200,000 in BIG funding for what the Fish and Wildlife Service identifies as a Tier 1 project; these funds are awarded on a noncompetitive basis. The Fish and Wildlife Service awarded Tier 1 grants to all 31 states that made the request.

Eight states were awarded a Tier 2 grant, which is competitive and brings as much as $1.5 million in funding. Projects in Florida, Illinois, Maryland, New York, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington received Tier 2 funding.

More information about the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program can be found at wsfrprograms.fws.gov.

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