News from BoatUS July 26, 2017
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 pump-out stations, and potentially small dredging projects.
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. Florida’s grant administrator is Patricia Harrell of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation. She can be reached at 850-410-0656 or at Patricia.Harrell@MYFWC.com. To see a sampling of prior projects that received B.I.G. grant funding, go to www.BoatUS.com/gov/BIG.asp.
Photo Caption: (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