The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced this week that its Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) program will provide more than $18 million in 20 eligible U.S. states, specifically for improvements and maintenance at marinas and other boating facilities.
The announcement comes as Americans across the nation continue to discover the great outdoors and experience the joys and many health benefits that come with time spent on the water, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) announced.
States receiving BIG grants are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington, although all states and territories were eligible to apply.
“Local communities, people who love the outdoors, and wildlife and natural resources all benefit when outdoor opportunities are easy to access,” said service director Martha Williams. “Grants made under the BIG program are great examples of the Service’s commitment to working with state and local partners to improve infrastructure and support conservation efforts. These funds and projects complement the Biden-Harris Administration’s work under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the America the Beautiful initiative.”
Funding for the BIG program comes from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, a voluntary user-pay system created by recreational boaters and anglers in 1950 to pay for critical conservation programs and recreational boating infrastructure projects.
The Trust Fund was reauthorized as part of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) late last year, and was a key priority for the National Marine Manufacturers Association and recreational boating community.
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 26 feet 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.
Under the BIG program, more than $3 million will fund projects in 19 states under the BIG Tier 1 subprogram, and $15 million in grants will be awarded competitively for projects in nine states (eight of which are also receiving Tier 1 grants) under the BIG Tier 2 subprogram. The Tier 2 projects will contribute an estimated 426 new or renovated boat slips and berths as well as approximately 5,682 feet of additional side-tie docking space, plus other amenities (including fuel docks, restrooms, showers, wave attenuators, and Wi-Fi) for the benefit and enjoyment of the transient recreational boating public.
Since its inception in 2000, the BIG program has awarded more than $263 million to projects for large transient recreational boats, including funding the construction of more than 6,500 berths and other amenities benefitting boaters across most states and U.S. territories.