Please select your home edition
RS Sailing 2021 - LEADERBOARD

Boating infrastructure grants by the numbers

by Scott Croft 14 Jul 2022 08:56 PDT
Florence Harbor Marina, Alabama, used BIG funds to renovate an existing 460-foot transient dock by adding new dockside power pedestals, providing water service, and replacing worn decking and flotation © Alabama Department of Environmental Management

Many waterfront towns don't make it easy for visiting boaters to stay and spend. It's not their fault. Protected, safe harbors as well essential boating services such as fuel, utilities and bathrooms, are beyond the price tag for a local town, marina or boat club budget. However, a federal program first championed by Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) in 1998, the Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) program, has proven effective in attracting boaters and their spending dollars by providing safe, transient dockage.

"In the 1990s, boat owners had a problem," explains BoatUS vice president of public affairs, Scott Croft. "Many were new to the lifestyle, and while they greatly enjoyed boating, sailing, and fishing, they had nowhere to go if they wanted to travel by water. There wasn't a lot of safe dockage to tie up to, preventing access to the local amenities such as restaurants, shopping and tourist sites." A congressional survey of 12,000 marinas confirmed existing tie-up facilities weren't keeping up with the demand for visiting boater facilities.

With a coalition of partners, BoatUS secured initial authorization funding for the BIG program in 1998. Since then, BIG has provided $263 million for safe harbor facilities for transient boats greater than 26 feet in length for stays of up to 15 days. The program supports infrastructure such as piers, breakwaters, floating docks, bulkheads, mooring buoys, day docks, dinghy docks, slips, bathrooms, showers, laundries, recycling stations, fuel docks, utilities, navigation aids, limited dredging and other services.

Now funded by the Wildlife Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, BIG is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and administered locally through state boating agencies. Sport Fish Trust Fund monies come from taxes that boaters and anglers pay on motorboat fuel, fishing tackle and equipment, imported boats, and small engines.

BIG's annual application deadline is typically in September. The application deadline for marinas, towns or boat clubs, however, varies from agency to agency, as do program requirements. A helpful applicant’s guide can be found at State’s Organization for Boating Access (SOBA). SOBA also offers a contact list of state boating agency contacts.

Here's a look at the Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) program by the numbers:

6,500+: The number of transient berths across the U.S. that the BIG program has created since its inception in 1998. These benefit traveling boaters as well as economic development of local waterfronts and communities.

$18 million: The amount of Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) funds announced March 30, 2022, to be provided to local governments, port agencies, public/private marinas and boat clubs in 20 states for the construction, renovation and maintenance of safe harborage for transient vessels. The next annual grant cycle for 2023 closes this fall.

426: The number of transient boat slips and berths that were funded in the 2022 BIG program "Tier 2" level, which is designed for larger projects. This included approximately $15 million for 5,682 feet of side-tie transient docking space. "Tier 1" 2022 grants provided nearly $3.4 million in funding for smaller projects in 19 states from Alabama to Washington.

20: The number of years that federal regulations require that a BIG project typically must be available to the public. This commitment to maintain the transient access for its useful life continues with the selling or transferring ownership of a BIG-funded facility, which requires prior authorization. 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, nor is leasing to nontransient vessel operators or summer slip holders.

26: The target length in feet (and larger) of recreational boats which the BIG program is designed to attract. This is about the size of a vessel with three key onboard amenities critical for overnight stays or cruises: 1. a cooking facility, 2. a sleeping facility, and 3. bathroom or "head."

Related Articles

Heather Lougheed takes the helm
As President of BoatUS Foundation for boating safety and clean water Heather Lougheed, vice president of the nearly 800,000-member boating advocacy, services and safety group, BoatUS, is taking on a second organizational role with the appointment to president of the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water. Posted on 24 Nov
BoatUS/NWSA leadership in Women's Sailing Award
Nominations are being sought The National Women's Sailing Association (NWSA) and Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) are seeking nominations for the 2024 BoatUS/NWSA Leadership in Women's Sailing Award. Posted on 17 Nov
Funding for docks and visiting boater amenities
Boating Infrastructure Grants can make it easy to attract visiting boaters Does your town or region make it easy for boaters to visit and spend locally? Having safe, protected dockage and offering amenities to these tourists by water can bring boaters in, but how do you pay for it? Posted on 26 Oct
Alan Dennison elected Chairman of NSBC
BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water program supervisor BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water program supervisor Alan Dennison has been elected chairman of the National Safe Boating Council (NSBC). Posted on 19 Oct
BoatUS Foundation receives $10 million NOAA grant
To fund removal of abandoned and derelict vessels Boats end up abandoned or derelict on our nation's coasts for several reasons. Irresponsible owners abandon vessels when they can no longer afford to care for them or pay for their disposal. Posted on 6 Sep
It's homecoming for Capt. Shaun Curtis
New owner of TowBoatUS Fort Loudon/Tellico Lake, Tenn For five years, Knoxville native Capt. Shaun Curtis successfully managed and captained the on-water towing and assistance port for recreational boaters, TowBoatUS Fort Loudon/Tellico Lake Posted on 8 Aug
TowBoatUS Oyster Bay has new owner after 30 years
Former owner Capt. Mitch Kramer has stepped aside with Tom Vetere taking the helm TowBoatUS Oyster Bay, a 24/7 provider of on-water towing and assistance for recreational boaters with additional locations in Huntington, New York, and Norwalk, Connecticut, recently celebrated three decades in business. Posted on 27 Jul
TowBoatUS 24/7 comes to Lake Granbury, Texas
Tiki hut dinner cruise captain and former bull rider opens new business helping boaters Capt. Tray Hudgens rode bulls in the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association for 3 years and spent 32 years commuting three hours a day to a corporate job. Posted on 20 Jul
Capt. Daimin Barth strikes out on his own
As New Owner of TowBoatUS Carrabelle/St. Marks Five years ago, when Capt. Daimin Barth began as a part-time captain for a TowBoatUS company on Florida's Gulf Coast, “I always knew that I wanted to do my own thing,” says the 36-year-old and former auto mechanic. Posted on 17 Jul
TowBoatUS Walter F. George opens on Alabama's Lake
They've salvaged thousands of hurricane-damaged boats; now they help Lake Eufaula boaters get home Brett Taporowski and Ben Morgan, who have a combined 50 years experience salvaging boats damaged or destroyed by storms, have an impressive record. Posted on 30 Jun
J Composites 2022 - J45 v4 FOOTERVaikobi 2023 Gloves - FOOTERMarine Resources 2022 - FOOTER