Aug 1, 2017
(R to L) Government Affairs Program Coordinator Morgan Neuhoff, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) Vice President Public Affairs Scott Croft, and BoatUS Vice President Membership Heather Lougheed.
Program channels boater taxes into user facility improvements
In a recent ceremony held in Yorktown, Virginia, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke shared a $14.7 million check with Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) Vice President Heather Lougheed, who accepted on behalf of America’s recreational boaters. The amount represents 2017-18 funding for the federal Boating Infrastructure Grant (B.I.G.) program, which funnels user taxes paid by boaters to develop transient boating projects.
BoatUS was instrumental in creating the program in 1998 that is viewed today by local municipalities as an economic-development tool to attract overnight-boater spending. The Secretary and BoatUS also urged municipal marinas, private marinas and boat and yacht clubs to consider applying for available funds by the Sept. 11, 2017 deadline.
The B.I.G. program recognizes that transient boaters offer economic benefits and add to the vitality of waterfront communities, marinas and boat clubs. Funds go to construct, renovate or maintain transient-boater facilities, including docks, moorings, restrooms (including floating ones), fuel docks, electricity, water and sewage utilities, recycling and pumpout stations, and potentially small dredging projects.
Said Secretary Zinke, “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.”
Said BoatUS Vice President Public Affairs Scott Croft, “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. Not a government handout, funding for the competitive 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.
While the annual deadline for the B.I.G. program is in September every year, state boating agencies may have earlier deadlines for receiving applications. 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 www.BoatUS.com/gov/BIG.asp.