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California’s Division of Boating and Waterways Allocates $4.25 Million for Public Safety and Waterway Preservation Grants

The Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) within California State Parks is currently accepting grant proposals to enhance safety and preserve the integrity of California’s waterways, while also addressing issues related to abandoned and unwanted vessels. A total of $4.25 million in funding is available for two competitive grant programs: the Boating Safety and Enforcement Equipment (BSEE) program and the Surrendered and Abandoned Vessel Exchange (SAVE) program. Applications for these grants are open until April 30.

The BSEE program enhances waterway safety by granting funds for patrol boats, equipment and enforcement activities. It is funded by the U.S. Coast Guard’s Recreational Boating Safety Program.

The SAVE program addresses abandoned vessels in California’s waterways, providing grants for their removal by local agencies. Funded by the Abandoned Watercraft Abatement Fund, it protects the environment, enhances safety and supports waterway integrity.

Ramona Fernandez, deputy director of DBW, emphasized the importance of these grants in promoting safe and enjoyable outdoor experiences for both experienced and novice recreational boaters. She also expressed gratitude to the boating law enforcement community for their ongoing efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of California’s boating community.

Maintaining and preserving California’s waterways is important for numerous reasons. The water bodies serve as vital habitats for diverse aquatic species, crucial for biodiversity and ecological balance. Additionally, clean and preserved waterways contribute to the overall health of surrounding ecosystems, supporting recreational activities such as boating, fishing and swimming, which are essential for both physical and mental well-being. Waterways play a significant role in providing drinking water, irrigation for agriculture and supporting local economies through tourism and commerce. By prioritizing the cleanliness and preservation of California’s waterways, the state can safeguard the environment and its inhabitants and ensure sustainability and prosperity for present and future generations.

Last year, DBW awarded a total of $1.57 million in BSEE grants and $2.75 million in SAVE grants, supporting a range of initiatives.

The BSEE grant program, with up to $1.5 million available in funding, is intended for local government agencies statewide. These agencies can use the grant funds to acquire patrol boats, replacement engines, personal watercraft, search-and-rescue equipment and other resources to bolster recreational boating safety and enforcement activities. These grants are meant to supplement existing local resources rather than fully fund boating safety and enforcement units.

Meanwhile, the SAVE grant program offers up to $2.75 million, also for local public agencies statewide. This funding is allocated for the removal and disposal of surrendered recreational vessels and derelict vessels from coastal and inland public waterways.

Applicants for both grant programs are required to submit their proposals through the Online Grant Application System (OLGA) by the April 30 deadline. To assist new applicants, DBW recommends viewing a 45-minute instructional video on creating an OLGA account and navigating the application system.

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