The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced it’s giving out nearly $17 million to dozens of states and the District of Columbia to refurbish docks and boating facilities for traveling boaters who pilot vessels 26 feet or longer.
FWS is giving $14.27 million to 10 states and DC out of the Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) program along with another $2.48 million to 27 states, commonwealths and federal territories to build up boating infrastructure.
From 2000 to 2008, FWS has spent nearly $91 million in BIG grants, according to government data, to support building up yacht clubs and marinas. Since 1998, FWS has spent about $187 million BIG grants.
The news was hailed by the sporting and recreational boating industry who said the funds would go towards improvements to docks, piers, sewage pumps and more which would help local economies.
“Providing recreational boaters with the infrastructure and facilities they need to enjoy the water through their own tax dollars is a proven success,” said Thom Dammrich, chairman of the Sport Fish and Boating Partnership Council and president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
“In turn, waterside communities and their small businesses benefit from the economic footprint left by visitors who boat there,” Dammrich added.
Funding for BIG grants comes from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, which gets its money through taxes on fishing and boating equipment, gasoline and excise taxes. These are then doled out to states to fund recreational boating projects.
But the grants only apply to infrastructure for transient, non-trailerable boats that are at least 26 feet in length or longer. Of the approximately 13 million registered boats in the country, only 600,000 are at least 26 feet long and considered non-trailerable.
The term “transient” also only applies to boaters who are visiting for 10 days or less. And people sailing in yachts from marina to marina would benefit from this funding — yachts can range in size from about 33 feet to hundreds of feet.
Some of this money is going to build up privately owned yacht clubs. FWS and New Jersey state officials are pooling money to help the Silver Cloud Harbor Marina, a private marina on the Forked River, build “six new slips for eligible boaters” and “install power, water, and ambient lighting for the benefit of eligible users.” The federal government will spend $65,710.
In 2013, the Shattemuc Yacht Club in New York state got $593,501 from FWS to help build “48 slips and moorings for eligible vessels” and “state-of-the-art floating concrete structure will be built to withstand high winds and storm surge, and will serve as a harbor of refuge for boaters traveling the Hudson River.” Shattemac is one of the oldest yacht clubs on the Hudson River.
Though money is also going to municipal marinas as well, such as the Bayshore Marina in Munising, Michigan. FWS is spending $1,466,577 to help the marina extend an existing dock to increase wind protection.
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