Boating communities get millions for infrastructure

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced nearly $14 million in grants 32 states, commonwealths and territories for projects to support recreational boating through the Service’s Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) program.

Grantees use BIG funds to construct, renovate and maintain marinas and other facilities with features for transient boats (those staying 10 days or less) that are 26 feet or more in length and used for recreation. Grantees may also utilize funds to produce and distribute information and educational materials about the program and recreational boating.

“Our recreational boats and boat docks share the water with fish and wildlife species critical to our ecology and economy," said Service Director Dan Ashe. "In the same way good hunting practices and land stewardship benefit terrestrial wildlife, boating facilities can benefit aquatic species by keeping waterways clean and driving revenues to state wildlife agencies through fishing that can be placed back into conservation. It's a cycle of success,” he added.

“Not only do these grants help to create safe and improved recreational boating facilities, and provide improved access to boating and fishing opportunities –they put people to work.”

Funding for the BIG program comes from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, which boaters and manufacturers support through excise and other taxes on certain fishing and boating equipment and gasoline. It must be matched by the states at a rate of $1 for every $3 of federal funds.

“State agencies and their partners are the backbone to the successes of the BIG program, bringing matching funds to the table to support these projects,” said Hannibal Bolton, the Service’s Assistant Director for the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program.

Tier 1 BIG grants are distributed to the states on a non-competitive basis, with a maximum amount of $200,000 per state. This year, 31 states applied for and received Tier 1 grants. Tier 2 grants are competitive, with a maximum of $1.5 million per grant. This year, 8 states received these grants (all but one also received Tier 1 funds). Click here for the list of Tier 2 projects. For more information about the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program visit http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/.