Please select your home edition
Edition
Vaikobi 2021 Boots - 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

TowBoatUS Long Beach earns Tower of the Year Honor
At the annual gathering of the TowBoatUS fleet in New Orleans TowBoatUS Long Bech, a towing and assistance company much like an on-water auto club that helps boat owners get home after a boat breakdown, was awarded Tower of the Year at the annual gathering of the TowBoatUS fleet in New Orleans. Posted on 22 Jan
5 TowBoatUS Captains honored for Lifesaving Acts
TowBoatUS responds more than 90,000 requests from boaters for routine on-water assistance each year TowBoatUS responds more than 90,000 requests from boaters for routine on-water assistance each year - towing, ungroundings, battery jumps and fuel drop-offs. Posted on 22 Jan
West Coast's Sailing Convention for Women returns
BoatUS has sponsored the event for nearly three decades After a Covid hiatus the Sailing Convention for Women is back with full sails and expanded learning opportunities and slated for Saturday, April 1, 2023. Posted on 8 Dec 2022
New owner of TowBoatUS Guntersville Lake
Professional service provides 24/7 on-water assistance in Alabama 880,000: That's the number of sea miles former commercial fishing and charter Captain Stephen Clark has under the keel, an incredible distance earned over 40 years of chasing fish on Pacific Ocean from Southern California to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Posted on 15 Nov 2022
BoatUS East Coast alerts by Mel and Tom Neale
Every fall, a migration occurs along America's East Coast Every fall, a migration occurs along America's East Coast, but it's not of the avian type. Hundreds of cruisers aboard recreational boats (nicknamed "snowbirds") load up with crew in an effort to seek out warmer climates Posted on 19 Oct 2022
TowBoatUS comes to Crappie Capital of the World
24/7 professional on-water assistance on Weiss Lake, Alabama “Red is Ready” on Alabama's Weiss Lake with the opening of TowBoatUS Weiss Lake. Located on the Coosa River Chain, the lake is known by many as the “Crappie Capital of the World.” Posted on 12 Oct 2022
Logan Thomas is new owner of TowBoatUS Lake Wylie
On-water towing, jump-start, soft ungrounding, fuel-drop service for recreational boaters Capt. Logan Thomas is the third generation of his family to grow up on Lake Wylie, forever exploring the waterway's 325 miles of shoreline, inlets and coves that straddle the border of North and South Carolina. Posted on 15 Sep 2022
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 2022
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 2022
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 2022
Maritimo 2022Mar - S75 FOOTERRooster 2020 - Impact BA - FOOTERCoast Guard Foundation FOOTER 2