The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the agency’s Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) program will provide more than $18 million in grant funding for 20 states to construct, renovate and maintain marinas and other boating facilities for outdoor recreation, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association website.
States receiving BIG grants include 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.
Funding for the BIG program comes from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund (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.
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 $263.1 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.