The Boating Infrastructure
Grant (BIG) program, which funnels federal fuel taxes paid by recreational
boaters back to the states to attract visiting boaters with amenities such as
secure overnight dockage, has $24.7 million in funds available to local
governments, port agencies, private marinas and boat clubs. The associated
visiting boater spending that BIG projects draw can increase economic
development and bring additional revenue to local restaurants, shops, boating,
service and tourism-related businesses.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Service manages the program that is administered through state boating, parks
and conservation agencies. The competitive matching grant program requires a
minimum of 25 percent of funds from state, local and private sources.
Waterfront communities can use BIG funds to welcome passing boaters for the
day, a weekend or up to 10 days in port. The key is the facilities must target
transient recreational vessels 26 feet in length and larger.
The goal is to give cruising
boaters safe harbor and easy access to shoreside amenities via boat slips,
mooring fields and dinghy docks dedicated to transient boats. In addition to
providing a place to safely “park” a visiting boat, local government, public or
private marinas and boat clubs, ports, or other recreation or conservation
agencies can use BIG dollars to install conveniences such as restrooms, bathing
facilities, fuel docks, electricity, water and sewage utilities, laundries,
recycling and pump out stations as well as some limited funds for dredging.