U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Friday announced $14.7 million in 2017-18 federal funding for grants under the Boating Infrastructure Grant, or B.I.G., program, which funnels user taxes paid by boaters to develop transient boating projects.
Zinke shared a check for the amount with BoatUS membership vice president Heather Lougheed, who accepted on behalf of the nation’s recreational boaters, in a ceremony in Yorktown, Va.
Zinke and BoatUS also urged municipal marinas, private marinas and boat and yacht clubs to consider applying for available funds by the Sept. 11 deadline.
“These three grant programs provide critical support to local communities, whether through the preservation of American maritime heritage or by ensuring the facilities and waters anglers and boaters depends on are in the best condition,” Zinke said, according to a BoatUS statement. “Although these grants come from different funding sources, none would be possible without great partnerships.”
Funding for the B.I.G. program comes from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, an approximately $600 million fund paid for by boaters and anglers through motorboat fuel and excise taxes on fishing and related equipment.
About 72 percent of the total trust fund dollars come from motorboat fuel taxes. The user-pay, user-benefit trust fund is administered in part by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for boating infrastructure and access grants such as B.I.G.
Prior to the event, Zinke engaged in a roundtable discussion with local boating and fishing stakeholders, including National Marine Manufacturers Association staff and members of the States Organization for Boating Access, according to the NMMA.
The conversation focused on the importance of such grants, the economic impact of boating to local economies and opportunities for greater efficiencies within the Department of Interior.