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Feds hand out recreational boating grants

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced more than $6.9 million in competitive grants to six states and one U.S. territory for projects to support recreational boating. The service also will release about $400,000 to six states willing to match a smaller grant program.

The first round of grants is allocated through the Boating Infrastructure Grant Tier II program, and the second round of smaller grants is known as BIG Teir I. BIG Tier II grants will be made for efforts in Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The agency also will release about $400,000 to Florida, Louisiana, New York, South Carolina, Washington and Wisconsin through BIG Tier I.

“The BIG program is one of many ways we support access and provide quality outdoor opportunities for the nation's recreational anglers and boaters," Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program assistant director Hannibal Bolton said in a statement. “These grants also spur major construction projects, create jobs and provide much-needed economic benefits.”

Funding for the BIG program comes from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, formerly known as the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund, which boaters and manufacturers support through excise and other taxes on certain fishing and boating equipment and gasoline.

"The Boating Infrastructure Grant program provides critical federal funding that is leveraged by states and marinas to create and maintain docks and other infrastructure that increase access for America's boaters to get out on our nation's waters," said Thom Dammrich, chairman of the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council and president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “The council commends the service for its extraordinary effort in opening up a second grant application cycle for this year, allowing some of that money to be put to work quickly to help rebuild boating infrastructure damaged and destroyed by Superstorm Sandy."

Along with $13.5 million in BIG funds provided in April, the service awarded a total of nearly $21 million through this program in fiscal year 2013.

Click here for the full release.