Both the Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) program and the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water Grassroots Grant program are offering money to communities to improve boating in their area. The programs are now accepting applications for the grant money.
The federal BIG program announced that it has $24.7 million in grants available. The program moves money collected from fuel taxes paid by recreational boaters back into communities that support boaters. Local governments, port agencies, yacht clubs, and privately-owned marinas are all eligible for grants. The grants can be used to construct docks, breakwaters, fuel docks, pumpout stations, bathrooms, and utilities. The goal is to attract transient boaters who will contribute to nearby stores, restaurants, and tourist businesses.
Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the BIG program was passed by Congress in 1998 with the backing of the Boat Owners Association of the United States (BoatUS). The competitive grant program requires a matching minimum of 25 percent funding to come from state, local and private sources. Funds must be used to build facilities to attract vessels who stay in the communities from one to ten days. The infrastructure must target boats of 26 feet in length or larger.
The BIG program used $20.6 million to fund 56 projects in 35 states in its history, including the replacement of a 40-year old fuel float in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Since its creation, the BIG program has provided $215 million for boating projects. If you are interested in applying for a grant you can find out more at wsfrprograms.fws.gov.
The Grassroots Grant program from BoatUS provides local groups grants of up to $10,000 to teach boaters best practices for safety and keeping waters clean. A rolling 365-day application process speeds up reviews. Interested parties just need to send a short letter describing their plans, and if they meet program guidelines, a full proposal will be requested. In the past, projects as various as installing fishing line recycling bins to blimps displaying safety tips have been approved.
The BoatUS Foundation has awarded $1.3 million since 1989 to organizations promoting safe boating. To apply, head to BoatUS Grants.