The US Fish & Wildlife Service is awarding US$20.6m in Boating Infrastructure Grants

The US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) is awarding some US$20.6m in Boating Infrastructure Grants (BIG) to be distributed to states in support of dedicated boat facilities and associated amenities for recreational boaters, local communities and their economies.

“These grants help strengthen community ties and stimulate local economies by enhancing tourism through access for boat owners and others to historic, cultural and natural resources,” said Andrea Travnicek, principal deputy assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks.

More than $16m will be awarded competitively for 20 projects in 11 states under the BIG Tier II subprogram. The Service will also release more than $4m to fund 36 projects in 24 states, commonwealths and territories under the BIG Tier I subprogram. States and their partners will provide more than $15m in non-federal matching funds toward these projects.

Grantees use BIG funds to construct, renovate and maintain marinas and other facilities with features for transient boats (those staying 15 days or less), that are 26ft or more in length, and are used for recreation. Grantees may also use funds to produce and distribute information and educational materials about the program and recreational boating.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) applauded the continuation of the annual grant program.

“This year’s Boating Infrastructure Grant program – which receives its funding from taxes paid by boaters and anglers – will provide critical investments in projects directly tied to getting more people on the water and give more than 140 million Americans who go boating each year more and better access. We appreciate the work of the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Boating Infrastructure Grant program,” said NMMA president Thom Dammrich.

Funding for the BIG program comes from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, which boaters and manufacturers support through excise and other taxes on certain fishing and boating equipment and gasoline. Since its inception in 2000, the BIG program has awarded $215m to projects for large transient recreational boats, including funding the construction of more than 5,400 berths and other amenities for boaters across most states and US territories.