Please select your home edition
Edition
Vaikobi 2021 Boots - LEADERBOARD

Boating infrastructure grants by the numbers

by Scott Croft 14 Jul 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

Moving on up
Capt. Shaun Curtis is new owner of TowBoatUS Mobile, Alabama Raised on a houseboat in a family without a lot of money, Capt. Shaun Curtis initially was unsure of his career path. Posted on 6 Aug
New TowBoatUS location serves Tappahannock region
An underserved portion of the Rappahannock River now has professional 24/7 coverage An underserved portion of the Rappahannock River now has professional 24/7 on-water towing and assistance coverage with the opening of TowBoatUS Upper Rappahannock. Posted on 5 Aug
3-hour courses for beginner & experienced boaters
Affordable 3-hour courses begin today in Fort Myers Edison Sailing Center and the national nonprofit BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water make it easy and affordable to learn how to drive a powerboat with a series of hands-on courses for beginner, women and experienced boat operators Posted on 11 Jul
Capt. Michael Tucker adds on-water towing service
24/7 on-water assistance with TowBoatUS Lake Texoma Capt. Michael Tucker had just moved home to the Lake Texoma region to help his dad run a newly purchased bait shop. Posted on 6 Jul
New owner of TowBoatUS Lake Conroe
North Houston native and 'right-hand man' Capt. Mike Montgomery moves up Capt. Mike Montgomery, lead captain for TowBoatUS Lake Conroe, is the new owner of the 24-hour on-water recreational boat towing and assistance service. Posted on 2 Jul
BoatUS warns boaters to be wary of USCG letters
Official-looking vessel documentation renewal notices can lead to confusion and higher costs Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) is advising boaters with vessels that have a U.S. Coast Guard Certificate of Documentation to be wary of any letter arriving by U.S. mail offering renewal. Posted on 6 May
Capt. Jeremy Carter is the new owner
Of TowBoatUS operations on Lake Lewisville & Lake Ray Roberts Ownership of a 24/7 on-water boat towing company with a big presence on Lake Lewisville and Lake Ray Roberts has changed hands. Posted on 26 Apr
Capt. Seth doubles the size of TowBoatUS business
New owner for on-water towing operations at Lake Jordan, Falls Lake Former fishing guide and lead towboat captain Seth Owens, opened his first 24/7 on-water recreational boat towing and assistance company, TowBoatUS Lake Hartwell, South Carolina, just three short years ago. Posted on 21 Apr
TowBoatUS Knapps Narrows win Tower of the Year
Capt. Gilmer stands out for her longevity and service assisting Chesapeake Bay boaters TowBoatUS Knapps Narrows, Maryland, owned by Capt. Mary Gilmer, was awarded “Tower of the Year” at the recent annual gathering of the TowBoatUS fleet. Capt. Gilmer stands out for her longevity and service assisting Chesapeake Bay boaters. Posted on 29 Jan
250% California boat registration fee hike halted
RBOC, BoatUS and Coalition of Groups beat back proposal California's recreational boaters could have been in for a shock with a proposed 250% recreational vessel registration fee increase being discussed among Golden State legislators earlier this year. Posted on 25 Aug 2021
Sea Sure 2020 - FOOTERNorth Sails 2021 Innovation - FOOTERCoast Guard Foundation FOOTER 2