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Federal grant program helps California maintain boating infrastructure

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s funding mechanism helps pay for projects in Avalon and San Pedro, among other locations.

EUREKA — Several boating projects in California benefit from a federal grant program aimed at funding vital infrastructure improvements, according to a presentation at the most recent Division of Boating and Waterways Commission meeting in Eureka.

Lisa Fernandes, a project manager with the Division of Boating and Waterways, or DBW, spoke with commissioners about some of the most recent California projects funded by the Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) program.

A waterfront redevelopment project at the planned L.A. Waterfront in San Pedro is receiving some federal funds for a dock. The dock would likely allow boaters to access the San Pedro Public Market, which is a signature feature of the proposed L.A. Waterfront redevelopment.

Also benefitting from the Boating Infrastructure Grant program is a pumpout station in Avalon.

Federal officials specifically seek projects adding tie-ups, bringing in new boater amenities, offering additional security measures, promoting safe harbor initiatives and fostering dredging activities for potential Boating Infrastructure Grant funding, according to Fernandes.

Tie-up projects include slips, piers, moorings, buoys, day-use docks and gangways, while amenities targeted under BIG funding are inclusive of fuel stations, restrooms, showers, utilities and laundry.

Funding for security projects would help pay for lighting, communications buoys, markers, buoys and signs.

The grant could also be used to pay for dredging (one-time award), seawalls and engineering permitting costs.

“The purpose of BIG is to construct, renovate or maintain tie-up facilities for recreational boats [measuring] 26 feet in length and staying 15 days or less,” Fernandes told commissioners. “BIG is a federally-funded program managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and funded by the Sportfish Restoration Program.”

DBW is an authorized administrator of the grant program, which is broken down into two tiers.

Tier 1 funding provides up to $200,000 for California projects ($4 million nationally). Up to $9 million is available for projects nationally under Tier 2 funding, with $1.5 million allocated for each California project. A 25 percent match is required for each grant award.

The DBW application deadline was Aug. 3; the department received one application and will be forwarded to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before its Sept. 10 deadline, Fernandez told commissioners. Award winners will be announced in March 2019.

California has been awarded more than $17 million in BIG funding since 2000, providing financial assistance to 16 Tier 1 and 18 Tier 2 projects. Funding has been granted to 21 private and public entities.

Six active projects are currently receiving BIG funding: Avalon Pumpout and Water Fill-Up Station ($197,000); San Pedro Public Market Docks ($1.5 million); Harbor Island West Transient Dock ($882,782); Treasure Island Transient Dock ($1,949,750); West Sacramento Public Dock ($1.5 million); and, Rio Vista Transient Dock ($225,000).

Avalon is spending its $197,000 federal award to renovate the city’s aging pumpout and water fill-up station.

“This system is [more than] 20 years old and is vital to the boaters,” Fernandes told commissioners. “The renovation will help ensure accidental discharge does not happen because of a nonworking facility.”

DBW’s Boating Infrastructure Grant funded a new floating dock at Newport Harbor that provides access to Lido Marina Village. Other projects awarded the federal grant program were the Avalon Fuel Dock rebuild and buoy marker project at Port of San Luis Harbor.

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By The Number: Boating Infrastructure Grant

$200,000                     BIG funding for California’s Tier 1 projects
$1.5 million                 BIG funding for each Tier 2 project in California
$1.5 million                 Grant award for San Pedro Public Market Docks project
$197,000                     Grant Ward for Avalon Pumpout and Water Fill-Up Station
25 percent                  Grant recipient match requirement
$17 million                  BIG awards for California projects since 2000
34                                Number of California projects awarded a grant since 2000

Source: Division of Boating and Waterways