Boating grants are a boon to industry growth

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You’ve probably heard of the Boating Infrastructure Grant program, affectionately dubbed the “Big P” by those of us who have long cheered the benefits of seeing federal dollars spent to support recreational boating. It does things the industry couldn’t do for itself.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that oversees the Big P just awarded more than $12.2 million in competitive grants to 10 states for transient boating improvements. In addition, about $2 million more in grants is headed for 21 states that provide matching funds as part of a smaller program within Big P.

It’s critical to understand the Big P funds come directly from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, which America’s boaters and anglers support with their federal gas taxes as well as excise taxes on certain fishing and boating equipment. Moreover, the trust fund is up for renewal in Congress this spring, so it will be a priority at our industry’s America Boating Congress, which runs May 11-13.

So how does the Big P work? The grants are awarded specifically to construct, renovate and maintain docks for transient pleasure boats (those staying 10 days or less) that are 26 feet or more in length.

The Big P has two funding tiers. Tier One awards funds up to $100,000 to states with eligible transient dock projects. Tier Two is a bigger nationally competitive program with grants up to $1.5 million annually per transient dockage project. In addition, states receiving grants must bring an acceptable level of matching funds to the table for their projects. In just the last three years, states have supplied more than $50 million in matching funds.

Transient dock projects in these 21 states are receiving the Tier One grants of $100,000: Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhoda Island, Vermont and Washington. North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are getting $32,000, $63,921 and $99,648, respectively.

There are 16 projects in 9 states getting the much larger Tier Two competitive grants. They are:

  • St. Petersburg, Fla.: new transient docks for up to 25 boats (grant $632,000, match $357,000, Total: $989,000);
  • Pensacola, Fla.: Nine new transient slips (grant $220,120, match $81,840, Total: $301,960);
  • Owensboro, Ky.: 500 linear feet of Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible transient dockage (grant $1,500,000, match, $3,252,542, Total: $4,752,542);
  • Portland, Maine: 61 new transient slips, a new dinghy dock and wave attenuators (grant $1,500,000, match $5,352,348, Total: $6,852,348);
  • Newburyport, Mass.: renovate existing transient dockage, showers & laundry (grant $448,059, match: $289,833, Total: $737,892)
  • Gloucester, Mass.: Adding 349 linear feet of new transient dockage (grant $263,930, match: $263,975, Total: $527,905);
  • Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass.: new ramp and floating dock for 10 transient vessels (grant $360,222, match $139,513, Total: $499,735);
  • Tuckerton, N.J.: install transient floating dock system (damaged by Hurricane Sandy) for up to 30 boats (grant $113,253, match $63,706, Total: $176,959);
  • Seabrook Island, S.C.: add 768 feet of new transient docks plus 538 feet for day dockage and 258 feet of dock for larger vessels (grant $833,120, match $460,064, Total: $1,293,184);
  • Port Royal, S.C.: 650 linear feet of transient dockage will be replaced and added (grant $324,109, match, $333,819, Total: $657,928);
  • Beaufort, S.C.: new 200-foot floating transient dockage (grant $168,000, match, $92,667, Total: $260,667).
  • LaFollette, Tenn.: Install new floating transient dockage on Norris Reservoir (grant $350,000, match $350,000, Total: $700,000);
  • Galveston, Texas: 36 new transient slips on Galveston Island (grant $1,189,440, match: $669,060, Total: $1,858,500);
  • Surrey County, Va.: 40 transient slips, fueling station, pump-out, bathhouse (grant $1,392,985, match $2,058,743, Total: $3,451,728);
  • Port Angeles, Wash.: replace 16 transient slips for vessels up to 80 feet (BIG grant $268,575, match: $96,053, Total: $364,628);
  • Port Townsend, Wash.: construct a new 600-foot breakwater to protect city’s 51 transient slips (grant $1,102,811, match: $ 1,461,313, Total: $ 2,564,124).

Overall, the Big P teams up with state partners to improve boating and fishing opportunities. It enhances access for boaters as a part of the more the $600 million provided annually through the trust fund. Big P is just one small, but very meaningful, part of the trust fun. Reauthorization of the trust fund this year is a marine industry priority.