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The Division of Boating and Waterways Is Offering Boating Infrastructure Grants for Marina Operators

The Division of Boating and Waterways in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is accepting applications for this cycle of grants, for public and privately owned marina operators through Aug 2.

The California State Parks’ Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) is accepting the next cycle of applications for public and private marina owners for federal Boating Infrastructure Grants (BIG). A total of $14 million is available through BIG nationally and will be dispersed to approved applicants starting in 2023. Since 2000, these grant opportunities have been annual.  The DBW accepts applications around this time of year and awards are announced each spring.

The BIG Program is a federally funded program created by the Sportfishing and Boating Safety Act of 1998 and is funded through the Sport Fish Restoration Fund and Boating Trust Fund.  The grant program is awarded through United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Division of Boating and Waterways solicits to subgrantees and administers the grants. BIG is a competitive program that is open to public and privately owned marinas, to support specific renovations or construction.

“The purpose of the grant program is to construct, renovate, or maintain facilities for transient recreational vessels, passing through, staying 15-days or less, that are 26 feet or more in length,” said Adeline Yee, Information Officer for California State Parks. “Examples of eligible projects include construction or renovation of tie-up facilities, visitor docks, restrooms, gangways, docks for potable water, pump outs, and fuel stations, showers, laundry, breakwaters, etc.”

The City of Avalon was awarded the BIG grant in mid 2017 and is using the funds to refurbish and replace its current pump-a-head dock that has been in service for over 20 years and is weakening from age. The construction of the actual float began in June 2022, and it is expected that the new float, which measures 40 feet in length and 12 feet in width, will be completed in September and installed in October.

“The original application for the grant was way back in 2017 and a number of extensions were approved while engineering and other plans were approved along the way,” said Orne Carstarphen, Harbor Master for the City of Avalon in a July 8 email. “Avalon Harbor will benefit greatly by the new and much improved Pump out dock with freshwater fill stations. We truly appreciate having access to these funds. We also know that our boating community appreciate quality pump-a-head and water fill stations and are happy to see these improvements.”

This program has two tiers for grant projects; the Tier I grant can fund up to $200,000 and the Tier II can fund up to $1,500,000. The awards are dependent on the total amount of the project. The grants can fund 75 percent of the total project costs with 25 percent of the total project covered by the grantee. The DBW awards the Tier I grants (up to $200,000 each year) and USFWS awards Tier II grants which are ranked nationally.

According to Yee USFWS will announce awards in Spring of 2023.

The $14 million in grants is approximately four percent of the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund.

“The funding comes from excise taxes on sport fishing equipment and electric motors, import duties on fishing tackle, yachts, and pleasure craft, portion of gasoline tax attributable to motorboats and small engines, and interest earned on the Trust Fund,” said Yee.

The program provides the following resources to the recreational boating community:

  • Enhance access to recreational, historical, cultural, and scenic resources.
  • Strengthen community ties to water’s edge and economic benefits.
  • Promote public/private partnerships and entrepreneurial opportunities.
  • Provide continuity of public access to the shore.
  • Promote awareness of transient boating opportunities.

Candidates interested in applying are urged by the DBW to first review the federal guidelines and application instructions to verify that they meet the necessary requirements. Grants are available to qualifying projects on a competitive basis. The USFWS will rank and score grant requests based off the applicants needs, access, cost efficiency, matching funds, and innovations that will improve user access to the waterways.

The DBW, the pass-through entity for the grant application process, will review each application and send the most eligible projects to the USFWS to compete against applicants from other states and territories. If awarded a USFWS grant, the division will manage the project through completion to ensure it meets federal requirements.

Applications will be scored on how well the project meets the following criteria:

  • Constructs or renovates tie-up facilities or amenities for transient recreational vessels 26 feet or more in length. To qualify as a transient vessel, it must be “passing through,” staying 15-days or less.
  • Provides for public/private and public/public partnership efforts to develop, renovate, or maintain tie-up facilities.
  • Uses innovative techniques to increase the availability of tie-up facilities for transient vessels 26 feet or more in length (includes education/information).
  • Includes private, local, or other State funds in addition to the non-Federal match described in 50 CFR 86.42.
  • Is cost effective.
  • Provides a significant link to prominent destination points such as those near metropolitan population centers, cultural or natural areas, or that provide safe harbors from storms.
  • Provides access to recreational, historic, cultural, natural, or scenic opportunities of local, regional, or national significance.

Marina operators eligible to compete in this program can receive an application packet by contacting Ethan Tratner at or (916) 902-8823.

Applications will be accepted until Aug. 2.

Active grant project include:

  • City of Avalon BIG -Pumpout and Freshwater Dock for $196,200.
  • Isleton Waterfront Marina BIG for $130,000
  • Oceanside Harbor Jolly Roger Dock for $691,711
  • Port San Luis Harbor District Avila Pier for $199,999
  • Redondo Beach Pumpout Dock Replacement for $200,000
  • Treasue Island Marina-Transient Dock for $1,949,750

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