Interior Secretary Zinke releases boating infrastructure grant funds

Program channels boater taxes into user facility improvements.

YORKTOWN, Virginia — U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, in a ceremony held at Yorktow, Virginia, shared a $14.7 million check with Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) Vice President Heather Lougheed, who accepted on behalf of America’s recreational boaters. The amount represents 2017-18 funding for the federal Boating Infrastructure Grant (B.I.G.) program, which funnels user taxes paid by boaters to develop transient boating projects.

Such projects help local municipalities attract overnight-boater spending as an economic-development tool.

Zinke and BoatUS urged municipal marinas, private marinas and boat and yacht clubs to consider applying for available funds by the Sept. 11 deadline.

The B.I.G. program recognizes transient boaters offer economic benefits and add to the vitality of waterfront communities, marinas and boat clubs. Funds go to construct, renovate or maintain transient-boater facilities, including docks, moorings, restrooms (including floating ones), fuel docks, electricity, water and sewage utilities, recycling and pumpout stations, and potentially small dredging projects.

More than $180 million in grant funding has been awarded to date. Funding for the competitive B.I.G. program comes from excise taxes on boat gasoline and fishing tackle that boaters and anglers pay into the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, while U.S. Fish and Wildlife administers the funds.

There are two tiers of funding open for applications: a non-competitive “mini-grant” up to $200,000 for small maintenance projects, and a competitive second tier offering up to $1.5 million.

Grants are for projects located on water bodies deep enough for boats 26 feet in length staying overnight from one to 15 days, and to navigate at a minimum depth of 6 feet. A minimum of 25 percent matching funds is required.

While the annual deadline for the B.I.G. program is in September every year, state boating agencies may have earlier deadlines for receiving applications.

To find your state’s B.I.G. administrator contact or to see a sampling of prior projects that received B.I.G. grant funding, go to BoatUS.com/gov/BIG.asp.

Photo courtesy BoatUS

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