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Secretary Zinke Releases Boating Infrastructure Grant Funds

At a ceremony in Yorktown, Virginia, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke presented Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) Vice President Heather Lougheed with a check for $14.7 million. This amount is the 2017-18 funding for the federal Boating Infrastructure Grant (B.I.G.) program, which uses user taxes paid by boaters to develop transient boating projects. BoatUS was instrumental in creating the program in 1998, and it is now seen as an economic-development tool to attract overnight-boater spending.

The B.I.G. program recognizes the economic benefits of transient boaters and the vitality they bring to waterfront communities, marinas and boat clubs. Funds are used to construct, renovate or maintain transient-boater facilities, such as docks, moorings, restrooms, fuel docks, electricity, water and sewage utilities, recycling and pumpout stations, and small dredging projects.

“These three grant programs provide critical support to local communities, whether through the preservation of American maritime heritage or by ensuring the facilities and waters anglers and boaters depends on are in the best condition,” said Zinke. “Although these grants come from different funding sources, none would be possible without great partnerships.”

The money for the 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.

At the ceremony, BoatUS Vice President Public Affairs Scott Croft said, “If you want boaters to visit and spend in your town, safe, protected overnight dockage with electricity and water service connections are a must. BoatUS is proud to play an important role in providing funding for these boating access improvements to communities across America.”

To date, more than $180 million has been awarded. 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 The annual deadline for the B.I.G. program is in September every year, but state boating agencies may have earlier deadlines for receiving applications.

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