Does Your Town, Marina or Boat Club Want
Infrastructure Grants Help Fund Transient Vessel Docks,
Moorings and Guest Facilities
5 tips on how to get your share of BIG funds
The Port of Rochester, New York, received a $1.5 million Boating Infrastructure
Grant to help turn this parking lot into a transient marina.
boaters like to go places, but to welcome them and take advantage of the
spending they bring, you need safe dockage for the day or night. The
Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) program funnels federal taxes paid by
recreational boaters on the sale of motorboat and small engine fuel back to the
states to attract visiting boaters. For FY 2021, there will be approximately
$20 million in funds available to local governments, port agencies, public and
private marinas, and boat clubs. However, before applying for a grant, you need
to know how the program works. BoatUS has five tips that can increase the
chances that your organization will get the BIG funds it needs.
After: The deep-draft harbor now offers 64 slips for visiting boaters.
is a commitment. First championed through Congress by Boat Owners
Association of The United States (BoatUS)
in 1998, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) manages the BIG
program and it is administered through state boating, parks and conservation
by learning which agency in your state administers the funds. Remember
that the grant is awarded to the state-designated agency, which needs to
ensure that the funds are spent properly according to federal regulations.
That includes a commitment to maintain the transient access for its useful
life as defined in the grant documents. During this period, these
regulations require prior authorization from both the state agency and FWS
before selling or transferring ownership of a BIG-funded facility, and it
must continue to be maintained under the terms of the program by the new
owner until the end of the infrastructure’s useful life.
access must be maintained. During that useful life period,
reasonable public access at a BIG-funded facility must be maintained,
along with BIG program signage indicating the funding source for the
transient dockage. Facilities must be open during boating season — closing
to the public for private events or not allowing tie-ups isn’t permitted.
Any transient dockage fees charged to boaters cannot vary significantly
from the prevailing local rate.
a “target” audience. The matching grant program, which offers
both noncompetitive (Tier 1) and competitive (Tier 2) funding streams,
requires a minimum of 25% of funding to come from state, local or private
sources. Towns, public and private marinas, boat clubs, and conservation
agencies can use BIG funds to welcome passing boaters for the day or up to
15 days in port with the key point being that facilities must target
transient (traveling) recreational (noncommercial) vessels 26 feet in
length and larger, or what is generally considered to be a nontrailerable
boat. If you’re thinking of applying to use BIG funds to only offer more
seasonal boat slips, fuhgeddaboutit.
is OK – just not too much. In addition to providing safe,
protected harborage, BIG dollars can be used to install conveniences
such as restrooms, bathing facilities, fuel docks, electricity, water and
sewage utilities, laundries, and recycling and pumpout stations. There are
also some limited funds for dredging. It’s OK if some of these amenities
are utilized or shared by nontransient boaters or full-time marina
customers, but your BIG funding application will be reduced
proportionately or, in the case of competitive Tier 2 grants, may not be
awarded if it doesn’t focus enough on the needs of visiting boaters.
now for 2021 funds. Since inception, more than $235 million
has been provided for BIG projects, funding more than 6,000 transient
berths across the U.S. The program has a recurring annual application
deadline, typically in the late summer to early fall, varying by state.
BoatUS encourages applicants to start now if you’re interested in applying
for FY 2021 funds (to be disbursed in 2021). Visit www.fws.gov/wsfrprograms/Subpages/GrantPrograms/BIG/BIG.htm to learn more. In addition, the States
Organization for Boating Access offers a free downloadable
Applicant's Guide to the Boating Infrastructure Grant Program.
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